White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

  • Monday, January 22, 2018 11:00am
  • LifeNews

As Valentine’s Day approaches and Spring fashions fill the stores, an eye-popping new exhibit opens at the White River Valley Museum titled “Suffer For Beauty: Women’s History Revealed through Undergarments.”

The exhibit runs through June 17th and offers an in depth look at how Northwest women strapped, tied, laced and buttoned their way toward the trendsetting looks of each decade from 1890 to 1970.

Suffer For Beauty explores the changing ideals of female beauty by looking at the foundation garments and fashionable accoutrements used to attain the elusive and ever-changing ideal image. It spotlights 90 years of wire bustles, quilted petticoats, elaborate pregnancy corsets, satin panties, pointed brassieres and restrictive bodices that forced an upright posture and prohibited arm movement. Learn about corsets designed for children, brassieres that shifted the female bosom up, down or out, and how men suffered for beauty (did they?). Is the ideal waste size really 18 inches?

Dozens of historic photos of high society trendsetters (Lena Horne) and Rational Dress Movement rebels (Fay Fuller and Mae Abbott) accompany an impressive collection of undergarments, dresses and accessories from nine decades. Each decade had its own idea about beauty that, in many ways, reflected the roles women were expected to play. The voluptuous yet tightly bound late Victorian figure contradicts the free and easy, androgynous female form of the swinging 70s. Slender, long-limbed, flat-chested silhouettes from the 1920s and 1970s are juxtaposed to the extreme hourglass figures of the 1950s and 1890s.


February 17 at 2pm – FREE (rsvp required)

This Victorian Life with Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman: RSVP required at wrvmuseum.org

March 23-24 7pm to 8am – $35(pre-registration required)

Girls Only! Overnight at the Museum

April 5 at 7pm– FREE(no registration but space is limited)

Curator Led Tour: Suffer for Beauty

April 25 at7pm – $20 (pre-registration required)

You’ve Come a Long Way: Tames Alan living history program

• May 12 at 1pm – $15 (pre-registration required)

A Taste of Women’s History Lecture and Tasting

About the White River Valley Museum:

The White River Valley Museum creates an exciting and educational experience for visitors through a series of award-winning exhibits and programs on regional cultures, arts and history. The Museum’s artifact collections focus on Puget Sound history, Northwest Native culture, Japanese immigration and the Northern Pacific Railway.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. On the first Thursday of each month the hours are extended from 6 to 8 p.m. It is located at 918 H St. S.E. in Auburn. Regular admission is $5 adults, $2 seniors and children, children 2 years of age or younger are always free. Admission is free for everyone all day on the first Thursday and the third Sunday of every month. Call 253-288-7433 or visit www.wrvmuseum.org for event information.

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