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The finest in the country

Purchased in 2010 from Greene, a well-known authority in costume study, the collection features 3,500 rare, mostly 19th-century garments and accessories.

Karen Augusta, appraiser for the Antiques Roadshow, describes the Susan Greene collection as “a gem” that “stands alone as one of the finest collections of its kind in North America."

The open-storage exhibit features some 300 articles, while some costumes are displayed on mannequins. Other garments and accessories can be accessed in pull-out archival drawers, permitting close-up study, while still protecting the fragile fabrics.

From 1780 to 1890

From 1780 to 1890

Although there is some formal attire, the focus is on items once worn by ordinary people in everyday situations; clothing that rarely survives. Most of the clothing dates from between 1790 and 1890 and was acquired or has a history in Upstate New York or New England, including an unusual number of items belonging to Quakers.

This comprehensive collection featuring outerwear, underwear, headwear, footwear and accessories, helps document the changing fashions and tastes for men, women and children. The collection also includes the richly printed fabrics, a particular interest of Susan Greene. Among the very earliest are lace edgings that date to 1650.

Items not on display are housed in two climate-controlled rooms that feature an efficient mobile storage system of racks, shelving and drawers, easily adjustable to accommodate the variety of contents. Temperature and humidity controls and a high-tech lighting system that produces little heat and no ultraviolet rays, also protect light-sensitive objects. An energy-efficient geothermal heating and air-conditioning system utilizes the earth’s natural heating and cooling properties.

The full Greene Collection database can be accessed by computer stations in the gallery.