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An exhibit of wedding outfits from the Vassar College Costume Collection, For Better and For Worse: Sixteen Decades of Wedding Wear at Vassar, will be on display in the Palmer Gallery from May 23-June 9, 2013

For Better and For Worse: Sixteen Decades of Wedding Wear at Vassar, an exhibit drawn from the Vassar College Costume Collection, will display a wide variety of wedding outfits dating from 1854 until the present, many donated by Vassar alumnae. The exhibit will also feature wedding photographs and narratives from Vassar community members, showcasing diverse wedding traditions and innovations.  All told the items on display will explore a nearly 160-year trajectory of changing views of marriage, and exhibit curator Arden Kirkland hopes to prompt thoughtful debate leading up to current issues of marriage equality.

Kirkland, the costume design assistant in the Department of Drama, asks, “Can we find a way to use these ‘pretty dresses’ to examine the changes in weddings and marriage over the last 159 years? Can we appreciate the beauty of these dresses, yet not let that blind us to the complications of the cultural ideals they represent?”

For Better and For Worse: Sixteen Decades of Wedding Wear at Vassar will be shown free and open to the public in the James W. Palmer III Gallery from May 23-June 9, viewable during select hours as well as by appointment. The gallery’s opening reception on Thursday, May 23, from 4:00-6:00pm is also free to the public. Exhibition hours are as follows:

May 23-25 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday): 1:00-4:00pm

May 26 (Sunday): 12:00-3:00pm

May 30-June 1  (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday): 1:00-4:00pm

June 6 - 8 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) 11:00am-4:00pm

June 9 (Sunday) 11:00am -2:00pm

To make an appointment for viewing the exhibition at other times email 

About the Vassar College Costume Collection

The Vassar College Costume Collection is a collection of over 500 examples of original historic clothing dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The collection is maintained as a research collection within the costume shop of the Department of Drama. Although most items have been donated over the years by alumnae and their families to be used as costumes in theatrical productions, these objects have been kept separate from the theatrical costume stock in order to conserve them for research purposes. As most donated items come from Vassar alumnae/i or other members of the Vassar community, they speak not only to the history of fashion, but also to Vassar’s history and to the history of women’s education. 

About the James W. Palmer III Gallery

Situated between the North Atrium and the Retreat cafeteria, the James W. Palmer III Gallery is at the heart of the College Center that adjoins historic Main Building. Constructed in 1996, the gallery was named and endowed by the Palmer family in 2000 in memory of their son James, a member of the class of 1990. Serving as an exhibition space for artwork created within and beyond the Vassar community, the gallery displays art of diverse mediums, themes, and origins.  

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, May 20, 2013