The Historic Garment District Museum was founded and opened in 2002 by Ann Brownfield and Harvey Fried. Kansas City’s Garment District (an area defined as between 6th and 11th Streets, and Washington and Wyandotte Streets) rose up around the wholesale business area of the City’s downtown after World War I and grew steadily to become, at its peak, one of the largest garment districts in the nation and the second largest industry and employer in Kansas City.
The Garment District Collection collection highlights about a dozen companies that helped make up Kansas City’s Garment District. The Collection is comprised of more than 350 garments and accessories made by local companies from the 1920s through the 1970s, and includes numerous objects such as equipment and marketing pieces. In 2015 the City of Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department, which operates and manages the Kansas City Museum, began to operate and manage the Historic Garment District Museum, and the Kansas City Museum acquired the Garment District Collection.
The Garment District Collection of Kansas City-made garments and accessories allows the Kansas City Museum to add to its stellar collection of historical clothing, textiles, and costumes, which comprises more than 20,000 items in the Museum’s collection and is one of the best collections of its kind in the region.
Due to COVID-19 the Historic Garment District Museum, located at 801 Broadway Blvd., has been closed. Beginning in November 2021 the museum will be available for tours by appointment only (for now) through the end of the year.
Please email Director of Collections & Curatorial Affairs, Denise Morrison, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set an appointment or call at 816.702.7703. Appointments can be made Monday-Friday for time between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. There must be at least 2 visitors or a maximum of 12 to a group.
The museum will follow city mandates about masks and social distancing.
The museum has access issues; if your party needs wheelchair access, please get in touch well in advance so we can set up how to access the building. There are numerous steps outside and a set of steps inside.
There is a single restroom onsite.
You should allow yourself 60 minutes to view everything; there is approximately 20-25 items on display plus some accessories, photos, and ephemera.
Museum staff does not provide a guided tour; staff will introduce the space, give a general introduction about the Garment District and answer questions.
POMP AND CEREMONY: Inaugurations, First Families and Beyond
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The fashion of politics is about making a statement—protesting or campaigning for a leader or a cause. We can identify ourselves with a position by what we wear. There are also fashion statements in what we wear to major political events in our history—being appropriately dressed has never mattered as much as it does at political gatherings.
Pomp and Ceremony: Inaugurations, First Families and Beyond looks at what we wore to those political events: the inaugurations, balls, parties, and campaign rallies. Everyone has a garment they have kept because of its relationship to a political event or belief. For many years, the Museum’s auxiliary The Women’s Division was intent on collecting the best pieces of fashion worn to “big” events, paying particular attention to ceremonial wear. Some of the items acquired by the Women’s Division have belonged to a few 20th Century First Ladies.
If there’s one political souvenir kept from presidential elections it’s the campaign button, a candidate’s or party’s best advertising piece. So, in addition to clothing worn, the exhibit also highlights a selection of political ephemera related to presidential campaigns as far back as William Henry Harrison. Buttons, badges, pins and medals are all included.
We have a shared heritage of campaigns and voting—no matter the cause or political figure it is an experience we all participate in. What we wore, what we saved from that experience is the stuff of history.