The Amelia Scott Galleries
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Library
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Library was awarded funding for a radical refurbishment of their building and at the end of April, 2022, new galleries opened.
The Textile Conservancy was commissioned to undertake the conservation and mounting of the costume, that ranged from elaborately embroidered waistcoats and period dresses, to a WW1military uniform.
The majority of costume exhibits are located in The Georgian Spa, a room dedicated to people of eighteenth century Tunbridge Wells. Gilt-framed portraits adorn the marine-blue walls, depicting members of local families, such as the Camdens. The central display units are filled with historic costume and accessories, that brings to life the people captured in the surrounding portraits.
Embroidered waistcoats, womens’ dresses and accessories form intimate groups of costume display.
An under-skirt was created to for the violet costume; beneath is a bustle and petticoat of stiff net to support the raised prof the back.
In two instances, previous repairs were reversed: an early Empire-line silk dress was presented with short ruched sleeves but investigation indicated that the pleats were a later addition. In releasing the gathers, the sleeves were found to be long and are now displayed in their original format. In another instance, a printed skirt and bodice were found to be attached with the top fixed the wrong way around.
The violet silk satin and velvet costume makes a strong statement in the entrance to the Amelia Scott.
The lilac silk Empire-line dress required an under-dress to support and shape the fragile fabric.
The practice ensured each display form was amended to fit the costumes so they are fully supported and the profile correct. For the dresses, under-skirts and full petticoats were created, including bustles and rolls to maintain the shape of the gowns.
The content of the Amelia Scott galleries was curated by collection manager, Anna Spender. The new exhibition areas are a testament to her vision and form a unique legacy for a cherished friend and colleague.