The Blanche Payne Regional Costume Photograph and Drawing Collection Now Digitized

In the 1930s, Blanche Payne took two leaves of absence from her position teaching historic costume and apparel design in the UW’s School of Home Economics to travel through Central Europe and the Balkans surveying folk costume in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia. In addition to exploring museum collections, Miss Payne visited remote villages, markets, and festivals throughout the country to study and photograph peasant costumes. She augmented her studies by drafting patterns, commissioning watercolor paintings, and collecting postcards of the clothing she encountered.

These visual materials (photographs, pattern drawings, watercolor paintings, and postcards) collected by Miss Payne now live in the University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections Division and have recently been digitized and made available online.

During her travels, Miss Payne also collected costumes and textiles (aprons, blouses, skirts, outer garments, accessories, and household textiles) which became part of the Henry’s permanent collection (over 694 objects). You can view these unique objects on the Henry’s website through our online collections database and the Costume and Textile Digital Gallery.

Digitizing the Payne Collection provides a virtual and intellectual connection between the visual materials and costumes. The photographs, pattern drawings, watercolor paintings, and postcards in UW Special Collections are valuable tools to help understand the ways the costumes in the Henry’s collection were worn and made.

Kosovo back apron

While in the field, Miss Payne photographed costumes from many different angles, realizing that each view helped to assemble the story of how a costume was worn. In this case, she photographed two women from Peć, in the Kosovo region of Serbia, from the rear, showing back aprons suspended casually below the waist. She collected an actual back apron from the period, now in the Henry’s collection. Within the upper and lower borders lie two pieces of striped fabric, joined horizontally, similar to the aprons in the photograph.

Back Apron
Women in costume from behind, Peć (Arnauti people), Serbia (Kosovo, former Yugoslavia), circa 1930-1937. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, BPC0360 

Smilevo outer garment

Miss Payne made scale drawings of costume items from museums, personal collections, and the items she collected in the field. This woman’s fulled wool outer garment from Smilevo, Macedonia layers over a chemise with the arms going through the large armholes in the front. The thin triangular items at the shoulders (vestigial sleeves) are tucked into the sash at the back waist. The scale drawing, which illustrates the cut, seams, and placement of the braid adornment, shows a triangular shaped lower side piece that fits into upper side front and back pieces and provides a unique way of adding fullness to the garment’s skirt area.

Fulled outer garment
Yugoslavia: Macedonia, Bigla, Smilevo. Outer garment (sajak — woman’s). early 20th century.
Twill weave; Fulled; Applique; Embroidered. Wool with wool, silk embroidery, braid, and tassels.
Henry Art Gallery, Collected by Blanche Payne.      78.3-20, t3

We are lucky to retain all of the Payne Collection on the UW campus and we invite you to visit us in person or on the web to see these amazing objects yourself.

Many thanks to long-time volunteer and costume scholar Diana Ryesky for her research and contributions, both to the Henry and to this blog posting.

The Week Ahead @ The Henry

All is quiet on campus as fall quarter draws to a close.

Molly’s Cafe will have reduced hours during winter break. Starting this Thursday and through December 22, the cafe will be open from 10 am – 2 pm. From December 23-Jan 1, Molly’s will be closed. Plan your alternative coffee route now!

Closing in Early January

The three exhibitions in our North Galleries close on January 5th. You only have a few more weeks to see the amazing black and white photography featured in The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker. Michael Upchurch of The Seattle Times said of this exhibition, “Metzker has fun throwing curveballs at your eye by shifting a photograph’s focal point to its outer margins or mischievously decontextualizing a subject so that it takes a moment to register what you’re looking at.”

Meztker installation image
Installation image of The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker. Photo credit: Mark Woods.


Brian Miller at the Seattle Weekly says of David Hartt: Stray Light, “The video conveys the anomie of modern office life, coupled with the sadness of a sagging industry. All the archives, file cabinets, and artifacts of traditional publishing are obsolete. Yet there’s a dusty, lingering optimism to the orange sofas and ’70s palette, to the test kitchen and cosmetics counter. Hartt even duplicated the crazy rug pattern—almost like that in The Shining—on the floor of the Henry’s small video gallery.”

Hartt installation image
Installation image of David Hartt: Stray Light. Photo credit: Mark Woods.


Camera Nipponica: Photographs from Japan 1880 – 1930 showcases examples of souvenir albumen prints and delicate glass lantern slides from the Meiji (1868–1912) and Taishō (1912–1926) eras. The exhibition also highlights a larger selection of vernacular portrait photography taken mostly by unknown Japanese photographers during the same time period.

Installation image of Camera Nipponica. Photo credit: Mark Woods.
Installation image of Camera Nipponica. Photo credit: Mark Woods.

We hope to see you soon!

Maps and Memory: New VIEWPOINTS

Do you compare this map to one in your memory? Do you wish for a map to be a faithful reflection of the world? Or do you wonder to what relationships the map is faithful? When you look at The World From Memory, can you see yourself through your own questions? – Luke Bergmann, UW Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

VIEWPOINTS highlights select works from the Henry’s permanent collection and offers three perspectives on the work by University of Washington faculty members.

This iteration of VIEWPOINTS features the work of Emma Kay, a British artist. Kay incorporates various feats of memorization into her art. In the work on display, titled The World From Memory II, she draws a map of the world from memory complete with place names. Kay is interested in individual memory and how it processes maps, literature, religion, and the past – subjects she considers “the stuff of shared understanding.” Commenting on her work with maps, Kay states, “I quickly realized that we depend on maps as essential aids to memory precisely because they depict information that we can’t possibly hold in our heads.”

Kay’s work is displayed alongside the voices of UW faculty: Susan Joslyn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology; Luke Bergmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography; and Deborah McCutchen, Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development, College of Education.

These three faculty members were specifically selected to respond to Kay’s artwork based on their research and teaching interests. We believe multiple voices can help expand our understanding of a work of art, cast a new light on overlooked details, and open our minds to new ideas.

Professor Joslyn teaches several Psychology classes focused on memory, including: PSYCH 462 Human Memory, PSYCH 568 Cognitive Approaches to Human Memory, and PSYCH 545: Advances in Cognition/Perception with a specific focus on Working Memory.

Professor Bergmann has a research interest in critical geovisualization as well as teaches GEOG 560: Principles of GIS Mapping. Geog 560 focuses on the origins, development, and methods of cartographic mapping. The course covers the principles of data representation and map design for thematic mapping and spatial analysis.

Professor McCutchen’s research focuses on cognitive processes underlying reading and writing ability. Central to her research is the question, “How are complex systems of knowledge used during reading and writing?”

VIEWPOINTS is a rotating series that presents new combinations of artworks and voices, emphasizing how works from the collection can inspire and provoke new dialogues and thoughts. Emma Kay’s artwork and accompanying faculty viewpoints will be on display on the Henry’s Mezzanine through March 2, 2014. Come and read each faculty response to the work and then form your own.

Guest Blog from Rebecca Migdal, Summer Intern

Throughout the year, the Henry offers a variety of student internships in different departments. Find current opportunities here. This past summer, Rebecca Migdal, a Lois F. McNeil Fellow and  graduate student in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, interned in the collections department under our Curator of Collections, Judy Sourakli. She recently blogged a reflection of her internship at the Henry on the University of Delaware’s Museum Studies in Motion blog. Here is an excerpt:

“Hands-on access also developed my visual vocabulary for late 19th and early 20th century clothing, the various issues with their conditions, their storage requirements, and other special needs. Throughout the internship, I contributed to other collections management functions, too. I helped research selections from the historic dress collection so we could more precisely date costume pieces. I also learned about the Mimsy XG database and the preparation and organization of digital images for both internal and external use. Learning a little about the Henry’s methods for condition reporting, storing flat textiles, and its accession process was also a focus during the summer.”

Read the rest of the post here!


Wolfgang Laib- Last Chance

Have you guys seen this time-lapse of the Laib install that our wonderful art handler Webster Crowell made back in February? It is super neat.

Come see the piece before it closes! Sunday will be the last day for it – we’re open 11am-4pm.

I volunteer at the apiary on the UW campus farm and everyone over there is super stoked about this Laib work (of course, Laib’s pollen is collected from plants, not bees.)  No matter- we’re headed over in a little group Sunday afternoon to talk about pollen. See. You. There.


P.S. I like to think that as Laib’s pollen grains go back into their glass jars and away into collections storage, spring is going to turn and the flowers, pollen and pollinators from RL are going to come out in full force.  Good timing? On this rainy afternoon maybe just wishful thinking.

P.P.S. Write this in your planner:

Upcoming Henry event!  Collections in Focus: Installation Art

Join Henry Head Preparator and Exhibition Designer Jim Rittimann, Henry Lead Preparator Dan Gurney, and Eric Fredericksen, Director of Western Bridge, for a discussion about select works in the museum’s collection that have challenged museum staff to rethink how art is stored, cared for, and installed. Artworks highlighted in the discussion will include James Turell’s Skyspace Light Reign and Wolfgang Laib’s Pollen from Hazelnut.

Please RSVP by May 15 to Rachael Faust, Assistant Curator of Collections and Academic Programs, at

Event is Friday May 18

7-8.30pm, Reed Collection Study Center

Members’ Choice

What could make the Henry’s OPEN HOUSE even better? Members’ Choice!

On April 20, during the members’ preview at the Spring Open House, Henry members have the opportunity to choose permanent collection objects for display in the Reed Collection Study Center.

Members are encouraged to search the Henry’s collection online for artwork and submit a request. To help focus your search through the Henry’s vast collections, we are asking members to choose objects related to the Henry’s current exhibitions, including Gary Hill, Andrew Dadson, and Ceramics.

Explore the museum’s collection through the online database.

Or explore collection objects through our Digital Galleries.

Once you’ve found your object, please fill out this form.

If you have questions about searching the collection, contact Assistant Curator of Collections & Academic Programs Rachael Faust at

On April 20th, during the members’ preview portion of the Open House, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., drop by the Study Center to see your choice on display alongside works chosen by your fellow members.

Have fun exploring the collection!

Deadline for submissions: Wednesday, April 18th

Have you seen Around the Bend and Over the Edge yet?

Around the Bend and Over the Edge exhibits ceramics created by Seattle artists during a period of radical revisions of what constitutes ceramic art. The show, curated by Martha Kingsbury, was specifically scheduled to be on view during the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ 46th Annual Conference taking place in Seattle March 28th to 31st.

Read the Seattle Times review of Around the Bend and Over the Edge as well as BAM’s ceramic show Push Play here.