FARMINGTON – The Farmington Museum has brought the world of hats to life in its “All Dressed Up” exhibit, which will be on display for a limited time.
The exhibit features more than 50 hats and a few dresses and shoes from as early as the late 1800s through the 1970s.
Museum educators Donna Thatcher and Cherie Powell said the Farmington Museum reopened a couple of months ago after being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and soon after, the “All Dressed Up” exhibit was created.
When first entering the exhibit hall, to the left is a case with two old dresses; a pair of worn, white high heel shoes; and two hats that match each dress.
The museum is a polling place for elections, and brought thousands of people to the museum during the last election for early and day-of voting.
“Last year, 2020, was the 100-year anniversary of when women got the vote, so we decided that in our atrium, where people are voting, we ought to have something to commemorate that,” Thatcher said.
The idea for the hat collection came to life after Thatcher noticed all the different hats on hand, and they wanted to do a spring fashion-type exhibit. While there are more than 200 hats in the museum’s collection, “All Dressed Up" features about 50 hats that are grouped by fashion.
The oldest piece on display is a sun bonnet with quilted pieces from the 1800s, complete with a drape to protect the neck, bows to tie under the chin and a large cloth bill “tunnel” that Thatcher said would keep women from getting sunburned.
Another iconic hat is the graduation cap of Farmington High School from 1917.
An entire collection is from Lola Furman, a former theater arts teacher at San Juan College.
“She collected hats and costumes and things, and her family donated much of her collection to the museum,” Thatcher said.
Furman’s family also donated some of her hat boxes, which she used to write notes on the side of, such as “will go with new fur coat.”
Each case has something of a theme. One case of hats features colorful feathers, while another has a nature theme, including a hat embellished with taxidermy birds sewn into the brim. Thatcher said it isn’t known what type of bird they are, but during that time, when exotic hats were “in,” some migratory birds in Mexico were under threat of being hunted to extinction.
“In order to get just the perfect ones (birds) on hats, they had to kill hundreds more, because a lot of them weren’t nice enough to put on a hat,” Thatcher said.
Powell said it was a shock when she opened the box and saw the dead birds.
The museum also has hats from Edith Mason, an opera singer, who wore extravagant hats, not in the opera, but in public.
The Farmington Museum switches up exhibits all the time, Thatcher said, and no firm end date is set for “All Dressed Up.” In addition to “All Dressed Up,” the museum has a photograph exhibit of Farmington’s Main Street from decades ago.
Admission prices may vary by exhibit, but in general, donations are welcome.
For more information, visit www.fmtn.org/248/Farmington-Museum-at-Gateway-Park.