Book review: Managing Costume Collections by Louise Coffey-Webb

Center back detail on an antique bodice from the UNC-Chapel Hill Costume Archive

I just finished reading Managing Costume Collections: An Essential Primer by Louise Coffey-Webb, and I immediately had to write up a review for this blog!

This book is fantastic--so much so that I've recommended we purchase a copy for our library at work (a professional costume shop attached to a LORT theatre, a graduate program, and an archive of historic costume).

The author addresses the various aspects of administering and managing a collection of garments for a range of purposes--a costume rental company, a museum archive, a study collection, a theatre's costume stock, an extensive personal/family wardrobe collection, and more. She discusses considerations even an experienced collection manager may not have considered, like disaster plans and obtaining an adequate insurance policy.

Coffey-Webb has traveled extensively in working on this book, to collections/archives in the US, Canada, and the UK. She illustrates various methods of storage, databasing, documentation, and preservation, and she provides sources for all kinds of relevant products/equipment, like acid-free boxes/tissue paper, neutral ph labeling/tagging systems, and so forth.

I only wish i'd had this book back when i was managing a collection myself, and although that is no longer my responsibility, I look forward to how we might take into consideration the issues raised in here at my own workplace now.

This book is available in both hardcover and paperback, and both editions are reasonably priced!


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