The Costume and Textiles Collection at the Valentine comprises over 30,000 dress, accessory, and textile objects made, sold, worn or used in Virginia from the late 18th century to the present day. The largest of its kind in the American South, this collection enjoys an international reputation among fashion and textile scholars.
Select objects from this collection are on public view in the museum’s permanent core exhibition and in an annual special exhibition of costume and textiles in the Nathalie L. Klaus and Reynolds Family Galleries. Research appointments are available for visitors interested in studying specific costume and textile objects not on view in the galleries.
The Costume Collection contains clothing and accessories worn by Virginians of all ages and social class for private and public occasions from the 18th century to the present day. This unique collection reflects the dual nature of fashion as both a local and an international cultural phenomenon.
Notable items from the Costume Collection include:
- A large collection of clothing worn by Virginia women from 1750 to 1840.
- Designer ready-to-wear and haute couture worn by Virginians from the late-19th century to the present.
- The surviving wardrobe of late-18th century Virginian, General Lewis Littlepage, who served as ambassador from the court of Poland to the court of Russia in the 1790s.
- Military and service uniforms worn by Virginians during the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
- Inaugural garments worn by Virginia’s governors and their families.
- Garments and accessories relating to Richmond artists, performers and performance events.
- Garments designed, made, and sold by Richmond-based companies from the 19th century to the present day.
The Textiles Collection includes important groups of quilts, coverlets and embroidered samplers, as well as a wide range of flat textiles and fiber arts made, sold or used in Virginia from the 18th century through the present day.
Notable items from the Textile Collection include:
- Home furnishing textiles made or used in Virginia including coverlets, quilts, samplers and draperies.
- Over 40 samplers made or used in Virginia including one commemorating the Richmond theatre fire of 1811 and another the 1824-25 visit of the Marquis de Lafayette.
- Hand-painted flags carried by Virginia regiments during and after the Civil War.
- Contemporary fiber art made by Richmond-based artists.