Sports and art face off in new exhibit

Rua Pokladnik

The Farm House Museum is currently housing an exhibit of uniforms from the turn of the century. “Sporting Style: Athletic Costumes 1880s-1930s” was researched and put together by graduate students in textiles and clothing and will be on display through Aug. 6.

The graduate students assembled the exhibit as a project for two classes — Advanced History of Costume and Textiles instructed by professor Jane Farrell-Beck, and Conservation of Textiles and Costume taught by associate professor Sara Kadolph.

Costumes were collected by the students from the Department of Textiles and Clothing’s permanent collection, a collection from the Forker Building’s Health and Human Performance Department and from private donors.

“The purpose of the exhibit with the students learning is to get them to do primary research in the archives in the university, [and] in records from other colleges or universities, so that they get an experience of doing something that a historian does,” Farrell-Beck said.

The idea is to give students the opportunity to document history “using original source materials … then to have them present research in a visible form so that others can enjoy it, and they kind of get some mileage out of having done it,” she added.

Farrell-Beck said she believes the graduate students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the project.

“From the point of view of the Farm House [Museum], it gives them an opportunity to have some additional human interest — something that will draw people into the Farm House as spectators,” she said.

Farrell-Beck explained why the era was chosen for the project.

“In part to harmonize with the period of the Farm House,” Farrell-Beck said. “We didn’t want to get too far into the 20th century; it would be so jarring to look at flashy polyester, satin, bright green or whatever in the middle of the Farm House because its period is 1860 to 1910. So we tend to not show the most modern things … to try to connect it somewhat coherently.”

One of the pieces on display is a parade uniform worn by former University of Iowa student Eric Wilson at the 1924 Olympic Games in Colombes, France. The uniform, on display in the parlor of the Farm House Museum, consists of a navy blue jacket, black and gold sweater and a matching hat.

Another piece on view in the exhibit is a leather football helmet dating to the late 1930s or early 1940s. The helmet is on display in the library of the Farm House Museum.

Some background information is on display with the helmet.

“Although football players began to wear protective headgear in games in 1897, the NCAA rules did not require players to wear helmets in games until 1939,” Farrell-Beck said. “Spalding first advertised helmets dyed to school colors in 1936. The helmet does not rest directly on the player’s head; a leather webbing conforms to his head to lessen the force of collisions.”

The Farm House Museum is open Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call the museum at 294-7426. Farrell-Beck can also be reached at 294-4233.