Dresses an insight into culture, social fabric

Professor Gerard Vaughan with some of the Moon Collection. Picture: Geoff Robson

Professor Gerard Vaughan with some of the Moon Collection. Picture: Geoff Robson

BEAUTIFULLY preserved dresses from the 18th century and beyond will form part of a new permanent collection at the Devonport Regional Gallery.

The Moon Collection, which showcases a selection of textiles and dresses that were bequeathed to the gallery by the Moon family, was officially opened by former National Gallery of Victoria director Professor Gerard Vaughan.

The oldest dress in the exhibition dates back to between 1840 and 1860 and the most recent is from circa 1940s, originating from Scotland and Australia. Professor Vaughan said he had a personal connection to the exhibition because as a child the Moon family, including three sisters, were his next-door neighbours.

He said he remembers their "comfortable and nice suburban" Edwardian 1920s house being filled with grand furniture and other items. These items were bequeathed to the family from distant relatives in Scotland.

"The sisters along with their brother inherited a house in Scotland in 1949," Professor Vaughan said.

"They went to Scotland in that post-war period and had to wind up the estates. Things were sold off but they brought a lot of the best contents of that house back to Devonport.

"When I was a boy growing up they used to show me what they had. I've often thought that perhaps this was the beginning of me taking an interest in such things."

Professor Vaughan said museums and galleries did not collect costumes and fabrics from different eras until the 1970s, but said such collections were important to understanding previous cultures.

He said it was a very good that the Devonport Regional Gallery housed such a collection, which would contribute to preservation of the past.

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