My nearest fashion museum is sadly very little-known and at risk of closure, which is really tragic considering it has one of the largest displays of fashion in a UK museum. Snibston, in North West Leicestershire, is mainly an industrial museum, with a large, important complex of historic coal mining buildings and indeed an accessible (by tour) mine. The costume collections cared for by Leicestershire County Council used to be displayed in a gorgeous medieval house in the centre of Leicester, which was one of my favourite places as a child. When the city and county were split into two local authorities, the majority of the costume collections moved to the county, which is why they are on display in Snibston, surrounded by steam engines and buses. It is a curious juxtaposition, and although the costume collection is very well displayed indeed, it is a little lonely in this venue.
However, for the ambitious visitor who can brave the hoards of children swarming around the science-play stuff that takes over the front part of the (vast) building, the costume collection is well worth a visit. Collections range from 18th century to the present day, and the collection is very strong on contemporary fashion including local business Next and top designer garments. The exhibits are arranged thematically rather than chronologically which makes for an engaging exploration, including areas exploring social issues, making garments and shaping the body.
The whole museum is under threat of closure and the future of the fashion collection is unknown, although it will be preserved, it may not be exhibited again. For now, while it is still there, the best time to visit is 2 hours before closure on Wednesdays when access to the fashion collection (only) is free.
For added incentive, during December 2014 there is also an exhibition of fine contemporary craft by Ornamentum, including new work by me, open right up to Christmas Eve.
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