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Museum of Costume (Bath)

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3 Reviews

North of Milsom Street and adjacent to the Circus and Royal Crescent.
1-2hrs recommended per visit. OPEN: Daily 10am-5pm CLOSED: 25th & 26th Dec. Tel: +44 (0)1225 477 785 Fax: +44 (0)1225 477 743 E-mail: costume_bookings@bathnesgov.uk Prices range fr

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    3 Reviews
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      01.08.2012 16:14
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      a must for fashion students and lovers but not one else

      Me and my friend made a road trip especially to visit the Museum of Costume as she was doing a Romanticism inspired fashion project and we both have an interest in old style dresses from 1600-1800s and history. We live just outside Bournemouth and it took us about 2 hours to get there and we parked for free and caught a bus into the centre, from the centre of Bath it look us about 20minutes to walk find the museum, we didn't use a google maps or ask for directions as Bath is very well signposted and just by following these signs we got there very easily. The admission fee is £7.50 or £15.75 if you want a combined ticket to see the roman baths too, our tickets cost about a £1 less as I had a student card and my friend had a national trust sticker from her car. You are then given an audio guide for extra information on the displays and clothes. We visited on a school day (the day we are not timetabled for) so it was pretty empty and we only saw about 10 other people during the tour. Everything is in a glass case and no pictures are allowed as the flash can fade the fabric of the clothes, although we were a bit naughty and still took pictures but with the flash off. The first part of the museum is sport clothes from past Olympics and typical holiday clothes for hot and old countries across the decades. Some of these are quite interesting but some were a little boring for me but they are set out really clear with labels or what they are. The next part is the most exciting as it is the best of the 20th century dresses, they are all very beautiful and it's impressive to see how small the dresses are and you can imagine how heavy the dresses would have been. The audio guide was really helpful here giving a lot of interesting information on each dress. This led onto the another collection of 17th century gloves which were beautiful as they were so detailed. The next section of the museum is dressing up! We found this really fun as the clothes are so different to what we wear now, we tried on different types of hats, riding jackets and our favourites were big hooped skirts and corsets (just managed to squeeze in!). As well as being fun to dress up and take funny pictures they are also quite informative because they are made to be the actual sizes and weights of the clothes from past eras so it gives you idea of what wearing them would have been like. There was a large room with glass rooms full of many different old dresses for daywear, weddings and funerals. This room was quite dull as most of the clothes inside weren't on full view and were displayed as if they were hanging in a wardrobe or packed in boxes. This room also seemed especially dark too which made it quite hard to see. In the corner was a table with felt tips where you can leave postcards that feature a figure for children to draw their own dress designs on and then on the back to leave feedback of the museum. The last part of the museum is the longest and is clothes that show certain styles like the 20s,40s, 60s which gave an overall style of each era which was quite interesting to see how fashion changed over the years and would be helpful for younger people becoming interested in fashion. There were different attire for musical genres and some outfits actually worn by some artists, although these weren't very impressive and I thought they looked pretty naff. There were also a large amount of outfits from a large variety of different designers from the 90s and early 2000s, I was at first really excited by this however most of the outfits on display seemed to be less popular from their seasons and didn't look that impressive. The very last outfits you see are 'top trends' where the museum uses vintage clothes to recreate the current trends, at the time we went it was pastels and lots of flower prints. I really liked this idea however I think overall it just looked like a jumble sale of clothes all chucked on, there was the odd thing that looked really good though. You then finish the entire tour of the museum and can visit the gift shop. The gift shop is very small and very fashion orientated as you would expect. It had two walls full of different fashion, pattern and icon books which I really wish I had bought some money for as I really wanted some of them. There were a few books that contained high quality photos of many of the clothes in the museum which my friend bought as it was very good, especially for the price as it was fairly cheap. There was also usual museum merchandise like stationery, bits of jewellery, kids things and postcards. I didn't buy anything but would have liked to. Overall I think I would recommend the Bath Costume Museum but only to people who really have an interest in fashion and costume as it is very informative with a large variety of clothes to see, very helpful for art/fashion students. Some of it can be quite boring however this may just be because I generally wasn't interested in some of the parts and found some a bit naff. I can see myself visiting again but only as research for my course not as a fun day out, it's always great to see things in person though, plus the exhibitions change on a regular basis. I wouldn't recommend it to people who have no interest in clothes or the history of clothes and costumes as they would find it boring and a waste of money. I do think£7 is a little expensive for what is on offer at the museum and the cost would be fairer at £5.

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        19.07.2010 10:22
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        A potentially interesting museum that has room for improvement.

        The former Museum of Costume changed its name in July 2007 and became the Fashion Museum. It is located within the Assembly Rooms in Bennett Street, not far from the Royal Crescent. Standard adult admission is £7.00 and there are discounts available for seniors, students and children. Group and Family tickets can also be purchased and you can buy a saver ticket for £15 that includes the Roman Baths (which is what we did), giving a saving of £3.50. The price includes an audio guide. After you have arrived and purchased tickets, if they are open you can have a look at the Assembly Rooms where Bath society came to dance, take tea and gamble three nights a week. Sometimes they are closed for functions however. The Fashion Museum is downstairs (there is a lift) and you pick up your audio guide at the top of the stairs. The audio guides, for me, were upside down! The strap seemed to be at the wrong end, so if you put them around your neck (as you can normally) you would end up strangling yourself when you tried to hold it to your ear. Not ideal, and an odd attention to detail to miss. My other frustration with the audio guide is that it didn't cover every section, there were parts that were missed out - usually ones I really wanted to know more about! It has been a tradition of the museum since 1963 that a Dress of the Year is chosen. 2009's winner was by Antonio Beradi and is currently on display as you enter the museum along with a selection of men's and women's outfits that have won in past years including Kate Moss's dress for Top Shop and some key designers such as Karl Lagerfield, Alexander McQueen and Mary Quant. Whilst we were there a new exhibition had just opened, 'Photographing Fashion'. However I only really discovered this since checking the website on my return home - when we were there, we just walked past some nondescript black and white photos. Not much was made of this at all, and I would like this to have been highlighted more if it was as significant as they claim. There is an interesting section on corsetry and under-garments in one cabinet. You have the option to try a corset and a crinoline on also. Other interactive parts include a children's dressing up corner. I did try a corset on (they have straps for speed so you don't have to spend hours getting your friend to lace you up) and a crinoline - I don't think the crinolines would be a hit on public transport, but corsets do wonders for your posture as long as you don't mind not breathing. It was certainly an interesting way to demonstrate that period in fashion. There was also a cabinet featuring gloves from around the 17th Century - they were decorative gloves that would have been worn only for ceremonial or special occasions, which is the only way they survived this long and looking this well. I can't say I was particularly interested in this section. There was also a small collection of swimwear. One of my favourite parts is the Dresses from History section which features a variety of styles of dresses from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods. The lighting was quite subdued in this section to protect the delicate fabrics, in fact in one section the lighting was practically completely out and it was difficult to see. In each case the background fitted in with the era and there were decorative articles - vases, chairs and other items setting the scene. There was also a time-line on the cases stating historical events that were occurring at the time the dress would have been worn - such as famous books published, important pieces of music composed and various world events. The definite highlight for me was an actual dress worn by Queen Victoria - an all black, long sleeved dress. Outside this section there is a display case with day-wear and another with evening-wear (both genders) but it seemed very messy. The cases were opposite each other so there wasn't much room between them, they didn't seem to be laid out in any particular order (i.e. chronological) and the audio tour seemed to discuss random selections from the middle or the opposite end so it took you a while to actually find the garment you are supposed to be looking at. This section was full of bemused people with audio guides milling about and not being a hundred percent sure what they were looking at. I think the idea was to demonstrate the difference between day and evening wear, and it certainly did, but in a most indirect and confusing way. This was followed by four influential British designers from the 1970s and 80s, none of whom I'd actually heard of. Maybe I'm a tad to young (I doubt it), but if that's the case that would include the vast majority of visitors who would come here. I was disappointed again, its not like there weren't plenty of influential British fashion designers over this period. Saying that the displays looked interesting, reminiscent of the period, and the audio guide was informative. I remember visiting this museum as a teenager and loving it, but I felt a bit disappointed by my return visit. The museum seemed a bit of a mess - badly laid out as far as a cohesive visit was concerned, you wandered into random rooms and I was concerned I may have missed something. It seemed very bitty and confusing. As mentioned before, the audio guides, whilst informative when available, didn't cover every section of the museum. All in all we were there only 45 minutes and I felt a bit let down. I would like to have seen more of the dresses from history coming forward towards the present day as I think that section was very well thought out. Recommended hesitantly.

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          05.09.2000 02:09
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          I recently came back from a weekend in Bath - somewhere I had been advised to go. I had initially planned to visit the baths, but they were so packed with tourists that I was in and out of the place within 10 minutes. (I'm not one for crowds) The baths are twinned with another museum in the city centre - The Costume Museum. I wasn't really sure what to expect - and I can't even tell you what to expect as they change they display fairly constantly so that they fresh costumes out. This makes it the kind of place you can return to again amonth or so later and see something completely different. It didn't take very long to walk around - about an hour, hour and a half, but there was still so much to see. The first room was very dark and the displays were dimly lit. The dim lighting is to protect the clothing. A full range of period costume, mens and womens. Some of the most beautiful clothes I have ever seen. They certainly used to know how to look sexy - what happened! It had shoe collections, gloves, dresses, suits, hats, underwear, hosiery all clearly displayed and well written descriptions and facts on all of it. The 2nd section was titled Women of Fashion it was dated form the 30's through to fairly modern and contained collections from major women of the 20th Century - Fontayne, Carnegie etc. There was something quite moving about it. The final section was one outfit picked by someone in the fashion industry for each year that the museum had been open. It went from the 60's and came up to 2000. The clothes I remembered owning in the 70's were clearly out to be mocked by my girlfriend. I used to love my stripey knitted tanktops! It finished with the Versace Millenium Dress for the year 2000. The circle in fashion is clear when you see it all out like this. The exhibitions are stunning, and there's something quite breathtaking about seeing these origin al dresses and suits. It will make you realise how beautiful clothes can be. If you are going to the baths - you can save a few pounds by buying a joint ticket for both museums. It really is worth it. And one final thing - if you decide to hire one of their audio machines - please don't stand infront of the information signs when you're listening to them. The people who didn't hire them would quite like to read what the descriptions say. You only need to listen to it. I would say that this Museum is well worth the visit to Bath alone. I loved the town, the food, the hotel - but this place was really something else.

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