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Collection level record



Museum of Costume, Bath




This museum is designated for the pre-eminent importance of its costume collection, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of fashionable dress in Britain. The collections focus on fashionable dress for men, women and children from the late 16th century to the present day.

Description (brief)

This museum tells the story of fashion over the last 400 years. Displays feature more than 150 figures dressed in garments from the collection.

Description (full)

This important costume collection divides into several elements: early dress, before 1800; the 19th century; modern dress; and dress accessories and underclothes. The modern collection is strong in the work of 20th century British designers, although it includes the work of leading designers from Europe, the United States and Japan.

Included in the collection are several rare pieces by Lucille, Lady Duff Gordon, the first London couturiere to be recognised as a dress designer in her own right at the beginning of the 20th century. Norman Hartnell is also well represented, as are the design houses of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

Vogue magazine donated to the museum a collection of 60 ensembles of clothes each one contributed by one of the currently influential designers of 1991. This collection gives a snapshot of fashion design over the world in one particular year.

The Fashion Research Centre is an extension of the Museum of Costume and provides facilities for reference and research into the history of dress. The study collection includes examples of costume, accessories, textiles and needlework of 18th to 20th century date. The Research Centre offers access to its facilities to all members of the public.


Costume: designated museum scheme (Resource)

Physical Characteristics

Coats, Dress accessories, Footwear, Gloves, Hats, Hosiery, Dresses, Underwear




Collection.Museum.Physical Object.Subject

Access Control

Permanent display and special exhibitions can be seen during opening hours. Contact Curator to arrange study visits.

Accrual Status

Open, active, purchase and donation

Accrual Status


There are currently 30,000 items. The Museum continues to collect items through both purchase and donation.

Legal Status

Founded in 1963.

Custodial History

Private collection of Doris Langley Moore OBE, a distinguished collector, designer and historian of costume, was donated to the City of Bath in 1963 and was founded as the Museum of Costume.

The Lady Ottoline Morrell collection was purchased in March 2000 with a grant from the National Art Collections Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Museums & Galleries Commission / Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Fund.

The Spence collection of gloves is on loan from the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London.

Note (1)

Special exhibitions take place in addition to the permanent displays. A range of study services is available, with access to items not currently on display, books from the reference library and archival materials. Full details on application to the Curator.

Note (2)

The Museum offers educational visits with activities tailored for National Curriculum keystages 1, 2 and 3.





Clothing and dress (lcsh)

Costume (lcsh)


Coats (lcsh)

Dress accessories (lcsh)

Footwear (lcsh)

Gloves (lcsh)

Hosiery (lcsh)

Millinery (lcsh)

Dresses (lcsh)

Underwear (lcsh)


Christian Dior, 1905-1957

Lucille, Lady Duff Gordon (Lucy Christiana Sutherland) 1863-1935

Norman Hartnell, 1901-1979

Doris Langley Moore, 1902-1989

Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1873-1938

Yves Saint Laurent, 1936-




1575/ [from statement ‘late 16th century’]


Accumulation Date Range

1945/ [assumption of when D.L. Moore started collecting]

Contents Date Range

1575/ [from statement ‘late 16th century’]

Associated Agents


Doris Langley Moore


Bath and North East Somerset Council

External Relationships


Dress of the Year Collection

Harborow Collection [duplicate royal coronation gloves]

Lady Ottoline Morrell’s Collection

Museum of Costume Study Facility

Spence Collection [gloves]



Catalogue or description


Described collection


Associated collection


Associated publication





Assembly Rooms, Bath



Access Conditions


The Museum is open every day (except 25 & 26 December) from 10.00 to 16.30 (last exit at 17.00).

Access Conditions


Admission charges are: adult £5.50, senior citizens & students £4.50, children £3.75. Bath and North East Somerset schools and local residents are admitted free on proof of residence.

Access Conditions

(tour guides)

The Acoustiguide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese.

Access Conditions

(disabled access)

The building is fully accessible to wheelchair users and there is a specially adapted toilet for disabled visitors. A wheelchair is available for use. A ‘T’ switch attachment for the audio guide is available to visitors with hearing difficulties. Alternatively, a copy of the audio tour text (with reading torch) can be provided to read during the visit.

Held collection

Museum of Costume, Bath

See also


Physical Location

Postal address

Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath

Post/zip code




Online Location


Not applicable as this is a physical collection

Associated Agent: Administrator



Penelope Ruddock



Organisation name

Bath and North East Somerset Council


Curator, Museum of Costume

Telephone number

01225 477 789

Fax number

01225 444 793

Email address

Agent History


Associated Agent: Creator



Doris Langley Moore



Organisation name

[not applicable]


[not applicable]

Telephone number