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Springfield dress conservation

Donations to our 2019 Annual Appeal helped the Museum to conserve the oldest dress in the Museum’s collection – a magnificent silk brocade gown from the 1700s.

Staff from the National Museum have been studying the dress and its history, and in 2020 were able to travel to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) to compare the Springfield–Faithfull gown to other gowns of the same period.

This confirmed evidence of alterations to the gown and gave the team a richer understanding of its construction.

The dress was brought from England to Australia and passed down through five generations of the one family. There is evidence that the dress has been modified several times, most likely to stay current with the slow-changing fashion of the period.

Cheryl Crilly, curator:

Beginning in the 1730s the story of this dress – its design and construction, how it was worn, altered, cherished and preserved – has been shaped by a long line of women.

The dress holds stories of London’s weaving and textile industry, colonial migration, pastoralism at Springfield sheep station near Goulburn and Sydney’s social life.

Part of the Springfield–Faithfull Family collection, the dress was donated to the Museum in 2005 by Pamela Maple-Brown and the late Jim Maple-Brown, and the late Diana Boyd, through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Thanks to the generous support of donors, curator Cheryl Crilly and conservator Michelle Newton-Edwards can continue researching and conserving this gown so that it’s full history can be shared with the nation.

Thank you

We would like to thank and acknowledge our donors to the 2019 Annual Appeal, including those who would like to remain anonymous.

Anna-Rosa Baker, Nerida Barges, Robin Blake, Daryl Blaxland, Rosie Develin, Jennifer Freyer, Wayne and Jennifer Godfrey, Catherine Harris, John and Eve Hiscox, Trevor Ireland, Teresa Layton, Lloyd Marshall, Graeme Mayo, Sue Palmer, Colin Rea, Alan and Helen Rose, Dawn Waterhouse, Moh Yan Yang, Dr Michael Allam, Sally Bachelard, Dr Geoffrey Burkhardt, Dr Joan Kitchin, Marion Kossatz, Wendy Lindgren, Mark Parkinson, Penelope Richardson, Linda Shaw, Ross Warren, Philip and Julie Roper, Gabrielle Watt, Janet Lapworth, Anne Moroney, Keith Bradley AM, Sarah Brasch, Nicole Bright, Karen and Paddy Costanzo, Maria Damo, Carolyn Forster OAM and Rick Forster, Sally Anne Hasluck OAM, Heather Henderson, William Hyland, Dr Joseph Johnson OAM, Gerry and Ted Kruger, Suzanne Maple-Brown, Dr Betty Meehan AO, Dr Paul Meyer, Peter Mitchell, Neil Munro, Jenny Myers, The Nicolson Family, Margaret Pender and Di Chalmers, Kristine Riethmiller, Sanya Ritchie, Linnett and David Turner, Lisa Turner, Kathy Walter, Robert and Helen Harvie, Justice Richard Refshauge, Elizabeth Gray, Meredith Hinchliffe, Bridget Sack, Robin Anderson, Joanne Daly, John Gray, Gary Humphries, Helen Rankin, Helen Cosgrove, Dr Anthea Hyslop, Pip Merriman, Wendy Smith, Helene Stead, Jennifer Rowland, Andrew and Monica Phelan, The Estate of Diana Boyd, Alison Clugston-Cornes, Sue and Steven Dyer, The Hon Margaret Reid, Margaret Anderson, Marc Besen AC and Eva Besen AO, Howard Brown, Dr Patricia Clarke, Haydn Daw and Susan Daw OAM, Fiona James, Marjorie Lindenmayer, Tricia McLachlan, Suzanne Wood, Graeme and Linda Beveridge, Peter Pigott AM and Ann Pigott, Louise Willey

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