Showcase of Messel family costumes

items from the collection

Our new exhibition for the summer 'The Triumph of Hope' provided us with an opportunity to showcase some of the Messel family costumes, on loan from Brighton Museum.

 

Martin Pel from Brighton Museum
Martin Pel from Brighton Museum
Martin Pel from Brighton Museum

Maud Messel’s costume dress

Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at Brighton Museum is seen here dressing the mannequin to display Maud Messel’s costume dress. The dress is very delicate and needs to be supported with conservation grade materials while on show to visitors. The dress comes in two parts and, due to the folds of the skirt, needs careful handling throughout the installation. Whilst Maud’s dress is on display it will have low lighting levels to protect the fabric from fading and discolouring.

Curators setting up in the Gallery
Martin Pel from Brighton Museum & Siobhan Barratt NT
Curators setting up in the Gallery

The dress is made of cream silk in a brocade style with rosebud motifs by Spitalfields weavers in the 1780s. Maud and her husband Leonard enjoyed dressing up in costume and spending their time at themed parties.

 

Nymans Muriel messel's sitting room
Nymans Muriel messel's sitting room
Nymans Muriel messel's sitting room

Muriel Messel's Sitting Room

Part of the gallery space was recreated to look like Muriel Messel’s sitting room. We took inspiration from the photo found in her sister Hilda’s photo album taken in 1916. Due to the photo being black and white we’ve had to  use our knowledge of the family and the time period  to recreate the colours in which the room would have been decorated.

The furniture was sourced from various parts of the house at Nymans;  the sconces on the wall that you can see in this photos are normally to be found downstairs in the Old Staircase Hall. The wall-covering is the key to the success of the room, hung onto a false wall, it really brings the room to life and gives a glimpse into the house that the Messel’s lived in.