January 31, 2016

Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising: A Grand Reopening!

A long long time ago...oh alright three years ago, I was finishing up my degree at Colorado State University. There was one place on campus above all others that I felt right at home, and that was at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising. The small museum packed a lot of gorgeous history into a relatively small collection storage area. My favorite aisles in the block of storage cabinets were of course those housing the western fashion collection, with the many examples of bustle gowns, beaded twenties dresses, and lovely antique hats. Though the more I worked in the collection, as I was taking a graduate level course in museum studies that last semester, the more I began to fall in love with the ethnographic collection too. Where else in Colorado can you see beautiful kimono and hand embroidery from Uzbekistan both in one place?

I feel very attached to the collection at the Avenir, even if I only spent a few months haunting it's formally small collections storage. I say formally because as I left CSU, it was with the knowledge that the Avenir was about to be transformed. They packed away the beautiful collection and set about a huge renovation, adding over 10,000 square feet to the museum! A brand new classroom for the historic costume and textiles classes, a new library for the great collection of fashion and design books, more storage space, and two new galleries to greatly expand their exhibition capabilities! I am just so glad there are others out there who love the collection the way I do, enough to donate much needed funds to expand the museum in this way. What was already a hidden gem in Fort Collins has been recut into an even more brilliant sparkler.

Close up of a Guatemalan huipil from the new exhibition Layers of Meaning: Color and Design in Guatemalan Textiles
Dresses in the current exhibition Mr. Blackwell: "Artist of Subtle Witchery"
A personal snapshot from 2012 inside the storage room, an amazing ombre 1920's beaded dress
Another snap from the storage room, this time of an even earlier 20th century dress

While the current exhibitions of Guatemalan textiles, designs from Mr Blackwell, and quilter Lucile Hawks are totally worth trekking to Fort Collins to see, I look forward to future exhibitions focusing on the great collection of historic dress. We all know I am a big fan of 1920's fashion, and I can only hope the Avenir puts on an exhibition of its wondrous 20's collection someday! Or perhaps a review of the various bustle periods, as they have many examples. I will be keeping a keen eye on their exhibition schedule, as a day trip up to my college town is always a good time!

I highly encourage anyone in the Northern Colorado, or even Denver, areas to make a trip to the newly renovated Avenir museum. What a joy to have such an amazing collection, and brand new museum facility, right here in Colorado! I know I'll be back as this collection holds my heart more than any other, what an unimaginable treat to have spent time in the museum as an undergrad and now see it so transformed.

The Avenir Museum can be found at 216 E. Lake Street, University Center for the Arts building, Fort Collins CO. Their hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and admission is free. Visit their website here for more information.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating place. It must have been wonderful to get to work behind the scenes and take a peek at items that were not on display.

    1. It was AMAZING to work in the collection. I really wish I could have gone into textile and fashion museum work, but they require a masters degree for such things and I just cant afford more school! It's too bad as I really really loved working in collections :( Though vintage sellers get to handle gorgeous clothing all the time too, so one day I may dive into that!

    2. That is a shame. Education is just so expensive isn't it?! You seem to have a very good eye so I imagine you would stock fabulous things as a vintage seller.


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