Winter is the perfect time for working in the Archives and the EHF staff started an important collections project last week—cleaning Munda Anderson’s dress. Miss Munda helped run the store for many years and is an important figure in the Anderson Store’s history. She made this cotton dress in the mid-1880s and even wore it for her 80th birthday in 1949. The dress has been on display for many years and is an important artifact in sharing the history of the Andersons and the store.
We decided it was time to take the dress off exhibit for a thorough cleaning, as well as cataloging and photographing, before it goes back on display for the 2017 season. As we removed the bodice, we discovered that the mannequin was made of chicken wire and covered with cotton batting. It was custom-made to display the dress, since Miss Munda was a petite woman and the dress will not fit on traditional mannequins or dress forms. The mannequin is showing its age and has a few rust spots, so we’ll be exploring other options for displaying Miss Munda’s dress.
The mannequin was fully outfitted, with the dress in three parts (bodice, overskirt, and skirt), three petticoats, stockings, and shoes. The dress is in excellent condition for its age, with only one split seam, one small tear, and a few water stains.
Fabric is especially sensitive to light and over the course of its life, Miss Munda’s dress has faded. You can see the color difference in the fabrics below: the fabric on the left was covered by the overskirt and the fabric on the right has been exposed to light. UV filters on the lights and limiting exposure to sunlight will help minimize further fading.
Now that the dress has temporarily returned to the EHF Offices, the next step will be a careful washing to remove dust buildup. Look for a future blog post about the cleaning process and returning Miss Munda’s dress to the Anderson Store!
-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin