Pomp & Circumstance: The Clothing of Transformation

Baby in a hanbock during the Dol Janchi. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.


Submitted by Washington State History Museum

"Mother and Papoose", Frank La Roche 1889. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.
“Mother and Papoose”, Frank La Roche 1889. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.

Opening Sept. 27 at the Washington State History Museum, Pomp & Circumstance takes visitors through the state’s rich history and cultures, allowing them to discover the significance behind ceremonial clothing and accessories worn during rites of passage, celebrations and more.

Ceremonies have always played a significant role in people’s lives. Baptisms, graduations, inaugurations and coronations all have importance to individuals and society as a whole. Throughout Washington history, clothing has been a critical element of those ceremonies in a variety of the state’s cultures, including Western, Asian American, Native American and Hispanic. Whether a christening gown or a graduation cap, Pomp & Circumstance shows that they are more than just pieces of clothing, they are representations of beliefs and accomplishments.

“Think about how significant certain pieces of clothing, like a wedding gown, are to us today,” said Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society, “This exhibit gives us an opportunity to view different pieces from different cultures’ celebrations throughout time, revealing unique insight into the lives, traditions and values of people of the Northwest.”

Visitors will be able to explore the meaning behind artifacts from the Washington State Historical Society’s collection, as well as other regional and private collections from as far back as the 1800s up to the present day, such as a hand-woven cedar graduation cap, a gown worn to the inauguration of President McKinley, and an 1894 wedding dress.

Jinkx Monsoon winning RuPaul's Drag Race. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.
Jinkx Monsoon winning RuPaul’s Drag Race. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, the exhibit opening day, the Washington State History Museum will also be participating in the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live!,  an annual event in which select museums across the country offer free admission to those presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket. By registering for a ticket here, visitors will receive free admission for two people to Pomp & Circumstance, as well as the rest of the museum.

Ongoing events will occur throughout the run of Pomp & Circumstance, which closes June 21, 2015, such as “Beauty and Duty: Fashion in Uniform” on Oct. 25, with service uniform collector Allice Miller. Included with museum admission, visitors will hear stories about women who wore the uniforms of the U.S. military in WWI through the Vietnam War and into the 1980s, and be able touch and photograph the clothing.

Regular exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with days varying by season and extended hours and free admission every third Thursday, 2 – 8 p.m. General admission is $9.50 for adults; $7 for seniors, students and military with valid ID; children, age 5 and below, and members are always free and AAA members receive a 15% discount. For more information and ongoing events, click here