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From Pockets to Pouches: 300 Years of Handbags

DATES March 29, 1997 through June 22, 1997
  • January 1, 1997 A selection of pockets, pouches, bags, and purses, mostly from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, will comprise From Pockets to Pouches: Three Centuries of Handbags, A Centennial Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from March 29 through June 22, 1997. The more than forty pieces that comprise the installation are all from the Museum’s collection, including 17th-century French gaming bags, 18th-century pocketbooks, and elegantly beaded 19th-century purses.

    This small installation will include bags embellished with crewel work, silk embroidery, and beading, and constructed from molded metal, tortoise shell, and shagreen. Also included will be various American and English embroidered pockets from the 1700s which were worn underneath women’s clothing and accessed through slits cut into women’s skirts. Some of the homecraft pieces reveal personality and original sentiment, as in an Embroidered German Pocketbook from the 18th century. Designed to carry letters, it bears the names of a man and a woman inside an embroidered circle of tiny forget-me-nots.

    From Pockets to Pouches: Three Centuries of Handbags, A Centennial Exhibition is one exhibition in a series that celebrates the Centennial of the Beaux-Arts building on Eastern Parkway occupied by the Museum and the 175th anniversary of the founding of the collections as the Apprentices’ Library Association.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 1997, 003.
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