Your browser needs Javascript support for this feature. National Museum of Costume - The museum and its collections
08 December 2021
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The museum and its collections

The National Museum of Costume collections consist of civilian costumes, national and international and their respective accessories, fragments of fabrics and bridal trousseau items, equipment and objects that belong to the manufacturing process of textiles and costume production and their respective accessories. The Museum also has a collection of dolls and their costumes, paintings, pieces of furniture, among other collections.

In February 1974, given the success of the exhibition The Civilian Costume in Portugal, the creation of a costume museum was contemplated, putting into context the specialised studies on the subject at the time and the “testing of the capacity to respond on the part of private donors, which was confirmed ” being a total success.

Natália Correia Guedes recalls and the registers of the  National Museum of Costume dated 1974 confirm the first items donated by private citizens. The public collection that was integrated in the museum’s came from the National Coach Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches), where since 1904 an important collection of costumes from the Royal Household had been assembled, enriched by a long standing policy of purchasing and accepting donated items.
In 1976, the donations reached the impressive number of 5.000 items, with 507 acquired items and only 304 from other State museums.
At present, more than 90% of the Museum’s collection – around 38 000 items– come from donations.

The various categories that compose the vast collection representing essentially civilian clothing and respective accessories, dating from the XVIII century to the present day, represent the way of dressing of the aristocracy and of the upper and middle classes.
Popular costume, almost absent from the museum’s collection when it was created has not undergone great fashion variations and is transformed, adapted and worn until it becomes threadbare, therefore the few items in the collections tend to be recent and older examples are rare.

The costumes worn by women represent the larger nuclei of the collection, associated with all kinds of accessories. These are complemented by a collection of women’s undergarments, composed by numerous items representative of underwear worn during the XIX and XX centuries. Men’s costumes are also represented, with a predominance of the periods when silk and linen were an essential part of their wardrobe. An interesting collection of children’s clothes completes the civilian costume nucleus.

For more in-depth information about our collections, please consult MatrizNet and Google Arts & Culture

National Museum of Costume collection
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