Dr Eleanor Thompson

Displaying Dress: New methodologies for historic collections.

My research aims to identify, develop and evaluate experimental models for the display and interpretation of dress collections, so as to inform and stimulate the development of future curatorial practice.

This is a collaborative project between the University of Manchester and the Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, the country's first dedicated museum of dress. The history of innovative and practical methodologies at Platt Hall provides a firm foundation for further research into display, interpretation and audience engagement.


After studying the History of Decorative Arts and Crafts at the University of Brighton, I completed an MA in Museology at the University of Leicester. My dissertation work led to an internship in the Interpretation Department of Tate Modern and a position as Assistant Curator of Education and Events at The New Art Gallery, Walsall.

Returning to Brighton and my interests in Dress History, I then took up the role of Curator of Dress and Textiles at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Here, I curated several touring exhibitions, including 'Fashion and Fancy Dress' (with Amy de la Haye and Lou Taylor) and 'Little Black Dress' (which also opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London).

Recently I have lectured at the Victoria & Albert Museum, teaching a course on the history of fashion, which covered the period 1600 to the present day. I have also taught courses on fashion, design history and museology at the University of Brighton.

I am currently working towards a PhD, studying under Dr Helen Rees Leahy (Centre for Museology) and Dr Miles Lambert (Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall).


  • Dress and Fashion Museum Collections, Berg Encyclopaedia of World Dress, due 2010
  • The Golden Age of Couture, exhibition review. Selvedge, 2008
  • A Family of Fashion: The Messel Family Dress Collection, 1865-2005. Amy de la Haye, Lou Taylor and Eleanor Thompson. Philip Wilson, 2005

Contact details: eleanor.thompson@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk