Royal costumes to Worsted wool - latest Designated collections revealed

By Culture24 Staff | 17 August 2009
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Shows a detail of a grey dress with two large coral ribbons tied at the back.

Kensington Palace's Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. A grey silk organdie dress worn to dinner at the Nova Scotia Hotel, Halifax, during Queen Elizabeth II's 45-day tour of Canada. © Richard Lea-Hair.

An unparalleled collection of costumes worn by Kings, Queens and courtiers and an archive chronicling one of England's foremost economic and business histories are among the latest collections to be awarded Designated Status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

Singled out as pre-eminent collections of national and international importance, the five collections join 125 previously Designated collections already recognised by the MLA scheme for their quality and significance.

The Scheme promotes world-class collections residing in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives with a view to increasing access to them for all.

At Kensington Palace, the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, featuring costume dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries, has been added to the Scheme. Offering insights into some of the central events in the nation's history, the collection is a unique resource of royal and court dress helping to explain the complex hierarchy of life at court.

Two financial archives which may shed some light on the current parlous state of the economy have also been welcomed.

Baring Archive's entire holding contains the business papers of Baring Brothers and Co, and is among the finest archives of a financial institution. Similarly, the Unilever Archives and Records Management's permanent archive is a key holding that recognises the global significance of the company and its predecessor companies.

photo of a group of children looking at a telegraphic contraption in a museum

(Above) Porthcurno Telegraph Museum's collections tell the story of the development of international communication that changed the world

A collection shedding light on Britain's economic wealth in the 18th and 19th centuries has been given Designated status at Bradford Industrial Museum. The Worsted Collection reveals how Bradford played an important part in the industrialisation of England and the development and mechanisation of the wool textile industry.

At Porthcurno Telegraph Museum the core collection of submarine telegraphy objects and its historic archive collection of key international telegraph cable companies tell a fascinating story of the development of international communication that changed the world.

"These inspiring collections represent a vital part of our national cultural and artistic heritage," said Paula Brikci, the MLA's Designation Manager. "The Designation Scheme plays an important role in identifying the very best collections in museums, libraries and archives across the country.

"We are conducting extensive research into how the MLA can support Designated collections in the future and introducing new initiatives for Designated organisations that will help them make the very best of their collections."

The five new collections bring the total number of Designated collections to 130. They include a vast and varied array of holdings, ranging from the entrire holdings of the National Tramway Museum in Crich, Derbyshire to the University of Reading's archive of the playwright Samuel Beckett.

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