Becoming Gendered
Garment as Gender Artifact

Exploring gender through clothing

Coming to the John L. Wehle Gallery in May of 2023, “Becoming Gendered: Garment as Gender Artifact” will explore how 19th-century Americans conceptualized, inhabited, and performed gender through the clothing they chose (and chose not) to wear. 

Clothing is a language we all speak. What we put on our backs communicates how we think of ourselves and our place in the world. How we dress provides the world with visual cues to interpret our identity. Color, fabric, texture, cut, and design – these are the tools of speech in the language of the garment.  

Admission to the John L. Wehle Gallery is included with general Museum admission. 

Self expression through fashion

Gender is a dialect of this wearable language. An exploration of 19th-century American fashions articulates a gendered trajectory from infancy to adulthood. What constitutes these respective gender identities is always in flux. Indeed, changing fashions reflect changes to how Americans have conceptualized and performed gender.  What it means to be a man or a woman, both, or neither evolves across the decades – so too do the garments that externalize these internal identities.  

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves again if we make the clothing, or if the clothing makes us.            

Gallery Talks & Tours


Join curators and guest speakers for a number of talks and tours throughout the 2023 season.

Stay tuned for a list of 2023’s talks and programs!