Avenir Museum offers ‘sneak peek’ open house at new facility

photo of Avenir

Are you curious who might have the largest clothing closet in Northern Colorado?

Come to Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising for a free “Sneak Peek” open house on Thursday evening, May 14, between 7 and 8:30 p.m. to see if it just might be theirs. Guaranteed, their “closet” capacity is impressive.

Graduate intern Rachel Crooks, left, works with volunteer Alana Eisemann and Dr. Susan Tontore on a French textile that dates back to 1820.
Graduate intern Rachel Crooks, left, works with volunteer Alana Eisemann and Dr. Susan Tontore on a French textile that dates back to 1820.

Located at 216 E. Lake Street, just east of the University Center for the Arts (UCA), the Avenir Museum spent most of 2014 renovating its existing premises and adding brand new spaces to unite galleries, museum collection storage and classroom spaces all in one location – and here’s your chance to see everything behind-the-scenes, months before this UCA jewel formally opens to the public.

You’ll also learn how students and community textile aficionados will be able to examine a garment that’s not actually in the room with them, what color “cochineal” is and where it comes from, and why all clothing mannequins can’t wear the same thing – who knew?

CSU’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising – formerly the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection – has its origins in the early 1950s as a small faculty teaching resource in the former Department of Home Economics. The renowned collection now comprises some 20,000 historically and culturally significant artifacts, representing primarily 19th and 20th century EuroAmerican dress and textiles, with additional depth in India, China, Japan, Central Asia and Latin America.

The Avenir Museum, which has been renovated and expanded thanks to a lead gift from the Avenir Foundation and significant funding from other benefactors, is part of the Department of Design and Merchandising within CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. It offers unique opportunities for scholarly inquiry and interdisciplinary learning, where CSU students and community members engage in hands-on experiential learning and research. Through exhibitions, courses, and programs, the Avenir Museum is a crossroads of theory and practice, where people and their stories come together – stories about textiles, dress and interior furnishings; how they are made and used; and what they mean to people.

Avenir graduate assistant Caitlin MacLaughlin works on a Richard Blackwell garment.
Avenir graduate assistant Caitlin MacLaughlin works on a Richard Blackwell garment.

Special collections include:

  • Designer garments from Calvin Klein, Arnold Scaasi, James Galanos, Carolina Herrera, Pauline Trigère, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Versace.
  • The largest publicly held collection of designs by Mr. Richard Blackwell, self-proclaimed arbiter of fashion and author of the annual celebrity Best- and Worst-Dressed Lists of the 1960s-2000s.
  • The Ruth Payne Hellmann Lace Collection, which consists of more than 1,500 pieces of historic lace and lacemaking tools.
  • Significant ethnographic holdings, including the Maxson Collection of more than 300 Japanese kimono, the Judi Arndt Collection of Central Asian ikat and embroidered textiles, the Martha Egan collection of more than 200 Latin American pieces, and Pre-Columbian textiles from Peru.

Avenir Museum staff will be present for informal discussion about specific attributes of the expanded and renovated spaces, and to provide a glimpse of plans for upcoming exhibitions.

Light refreshments will be served.

Story by Doreen Beard

CSU University Communications Staff