The Case of the missing man
Museum collections are a means by which collective histories and memories are formed. Often fragmentary, most archives are established over time through purchases and donations. The NGV’s Fashion and Textile collection comprises around 8,500 works spanning several centuries and includes womenswear, millinery, shoes, fans, parasols, textiles and lace amongst other things. Significantly it contains very little nineteenth-century menswear.
Accounting for this lack of evidence raises interesting questions about value and availability. Are museum collections a matter of what we see or, what we don’t see? What do collecting prejudices mean for a history of masculine taste and aesthetics?