Curator's Corner

Decades of Dresses Exhibit

This summer Meadow Brook Hall tells the history of the world through fashion.  For thousands of years, clothes have been a symbol of status and taste.  The colors, materials and design of a garment illustrate the wearer's profession, personality and income level in a way that few other possessions do - and people take part in the pageantry, following trends and buying name brands.  Decades of Dresses reveals the symbolism of clothes, the social and personal stories that they tell, with a display of original costumes and accessories from 1907-1967.

From the conservatism of the Victorian era to the decadence of the 1960s, fashion never changed as much as it did in Matilda Wilson's lifetime.  The Meadow Brook Hall dress collection uniquely illustrates the evolution of the Dodge and Wilson families and the world in which they lived.  Join us as we explore how politics changed popular fashion, why the Depression era had the best-dressed movie stars and the diets people tried to fit into them.  From necklines ruled by the Hays Code to hemlines controlled by the US government, clothes are more than either fashion or function.

Digital Dress: 200 Years of Urban Style

From 2003-2005, Meadow Brook Hall participated in a project with Wayne State University, WSU College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum and The Henry Ford.  In partnership we created a universally accessible, unique, research quality web portal for increasing access to a multi-institutional collection of 5,000 digital images of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories. These objects, including 450 from Meadow Brook Hall's collection, have been photographed and studied, with the results available to the public HERE.


EXPLORE THE COLLECTION:

Decorative Arts
Paperweight Vase with White Dogwood Flowers, 1919
Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 1848-1933)
Favrile glass, 15 5/16 inches high

Explore the world of the Decorative Arts at Meadow Brook Hall. Collected in the 20th century by the Dodge and Wilson families, our collection encompasses some of the finest objects from companies around the world including Sevre, Tiffany, Lalique, Rookwood, Oscar Bach and Paul Poiret. Also on view are original custom decorative objects and furniture created between 1926 and 1929 from interior design firms such as Hampton Shops and Hayden Company for Meadow Brook Hall.

Fine Art
The Virgin and Child
Raffaellina de Garbo (1476-1524)
Oil on Panel, framed 28" x 16"

As you tour Meadow Brook, you will have the chance to view the collection of fine art the family amassed. Although the collection spans multiple centuries and cultures, the collection focuses mostly on the 19th century artists that the Wilsons enjoyed. Especially prominent are landscape paintings and family portraits.

Textile
Coat of black wool lined in red crepe, edging of gold metallic braid and gilded leather, 1924
Paul Poiret (French, 1879-1944)

Meadow Brook Hall is graced by many original textiles, both in our extensive costume collection (periodically on view) and our decorative collection. Antique tapestries, rugs and linens showcase the extraordinary skill that went into many of these works and represent an area of craft that is often underappreciated today.

Digital Dress: 200 Years of Urban Style

From 2003-2005, Meadow Brook Hall participated in a project with Wayne State University, WSU College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum and The Henry Ford.  In partnership we created a universally accessible, unique, research quality web portal for increasing access to a multi-institutional collection of 5,000 digital images of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories. These objects, including 450 from Meadow Brook Hall's collection, have been photographed and studied, with the results available to the public HERE.

Architecture
Limestone Carved Corbel, 1927
Designed by Corrado Parducci

Meadow Brook Hall is the preeminent example of Tudor revival architecture in the United States. At 88,000 square feet, the home boast exquisite architectural ornamentation and detailing by top craftsmen in woodworking, masonry, plaster and metal work. Every room provides a new surprise whether you are exploring stories from Alfred Wilson's life carved into the Frieze of his private study, passing finely modeled custom door hardware or staring in awe at one of the region's most beautiful plaster ceilings.

ESTATE GROUNDS
Pegasus on Mount Helicon, 1949
Avard Fairbanks (1897-1987)
Bronze with Verdigris patina

While few of the original gardens were ever fully constructed, the 1928 plan created by English landscape architect Arthur Davidson for Meadow Brook Hall originally called for a wide variety of formal and informal gardens. Today some of those original features exist and intermingle with modern gardens that continue to inspire with their beauty. The Pegasus garden (seen here) was part of the original design but was not completed until 1949. It features the striking figure of Pegasus on Mount Helicon and was created by famed sculptor Avard Fairbanks, who designed the original Dodge Ram hood ornament. It is one of two sculptures of his that grace our landscape.

Click HERE to view an Interactive Estate Map of the gardens at Meadow Brook Hall.