“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet
It is February at Living History Farms. The museum is closed for general touring until May 1. Museum staffers are often asked if this is our “slow time.” It usually makes us laugh a little to ourselves. Living History Farms offers a winter season full of programs by reservation. Last week alone, we offered 11 historic dinner programs, 6 education experiences, and our historic textile show was installed and opened for its first 4 days of exhibition. It actually isn’t slow around the museum right now at all!
If we are asked, however, are you all tired of winter by this time–well, most of us would really have to admit we are, indeed, needing some spring! This is the time of year we eagerly reach for seed catalogs and start drawing garden diagrams in the margins of meeting notes.
Between our weariness for cold and snow and the excitement for planning summery programs, we are ready for a good shot in the arm of spring flora and fauna. This year, our textile exhibit is giving us just that! The 2019 textile show aimed at breaking through the winter blahs with the title, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” Running Feb 14-16 and Feb 21-23, this special showing features quilts, household textiles, clothing, and hats from our historic textiles collection which showcase flower and plant motifs in their patterns and materials.
Quilts included delicate 1930s era floral printed calico cottons made into patterns with names like “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” “Lazy Daisy,” and “Tulip.” Hooked rugs and embroidered table linens featured tulips, strawberries, and other spring plant designs. Browsing in the textile room has warmed the hearts of cold Iowa museum staffers and guests.
Flowers are the prominent design in the hat gallery as well! This gallery displays a collection of floral hats, likely dating between 1930 and 1960, originally part of store inventory at Wolf’s of Des Moines. Listed in the 1922 Des Moines City Directory as “Wolf’s Cloak & Millinery House, E.O. Wolf Manager. Cloaks, Suits, Furs and Millinery” was located at 712-714 Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines and sold designer hats and furs throughout the mid- 20th century.
Museum guests may think of Living History Farms’ 1875 era Millinery Shop carrying Victorian hats covered in silk flowers, but this trend actually carried through the 20th century, too!
Flowers just don’t go out of style. Our Wolf’s collection reminds us of that Des Moines women have long felt the need for flowers and spring frivolity.
If you won’t be able to attend the remaining days of our February 2019 textile show, or if you want to see more quilts and hats from the Living History Farms collection, there are a couple ways you can do so. Throughout the year, Living History Farms collections specialists offer Behind the Scenes tours of our textile collection storage area by reservation.
Another way to sneak a peek into the collection, and especially into the hat collection, is by checking out the Living History Farms Digital Collection page. Curators and collections volunteers have uploaded digital images of many of our hats, and quilts, into an online accessible database. Check it out and get your own shot of spring flowers!