For the first time, the Weeksville Heritage Center is drawing from its textile collection to weave together the story of the community through its garments.
The exhibit, “Fashioning the Women of Weeksville,” brings together clothing, accessories, oral histories and historic images spanning the 1860s through the 1940s. From an intricate late 19th century skirt to a delicately beaded 1920s flapper dress, all the artifacts on display connect to women who lived in the community.
Founded by James Weeks in the 1830s as a free black community, by the 20th century Weeksville was swallowed up by the surrounding neighborhoods.
The story of the early community and its importance to Brooklyn history began to reemerge in the 1960s, and community members and historians rallied to save the remaining houses, conduct archaeological digs, gather oral histories and find objects for the collection. Most of the items in the exhibit were donated during this time of rediscovery.
The installation includes 15 items from the museum’s textile collection as well two contemporary interpretations of the historic clothing by artists Sara Bunn and Lashae White. Visitors can watch a short fashion film showing women in historic dress walking through the historic spaces, listen to oral histories and sketch their own design inspired by the clothing on display.
The exhibit opens on Saturday, June 17 with a free open house from 3 to 5 p.m. and runs through September 30. It is installed in the Education and Cultural Arts Building and accessible during regular museum hours — Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on the second Saturday of every month. Special lectures and programs are being planned in conjunction with the exhibit.
For more information about Weeksville, the open hours and the exhibit, click here.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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