Hawaiian Shirts Create Tropical Paradise in Lowell, Massachusetts
A lush new special exhibition opens January 31 at the American Textile History Museum, presenting all the fun and fantasy of a tropical paradise, and transporting visitors to the Hawaiian Islands through the textile art of classic Hawaiian shirts. Titled “Let’s Go Hawaiian,” the exhibition of more than 150 pieces offers a playful exploration of Hawaii from the 1930s to the 1960s. The show will run through June 20.
The shirts, most originating from the collection of Dr Gary Moss, picture the island’s history, the beauty of its landscape, its popular culture, and lure as a tourist resort. Bold patterns and color combinations printed on rayon, cotton and silk fabrics; sea life, beach, recreation, floral, fruit and foliage designs; these motifs and retro details illustrate the heritage of the Hawaiian Islands and its friendly, relaxed lifestyle.
The installation is arranged to create the illusion of visitors stepping off a cruise ship gang plank into the Hawaiian Islands. Waterfalls and a tropical rain forest, tourist memorabilia, panoramic photographs, maps and other artifacts, along with sounds and smells of the tropics, help tell the story. To launch the exhibit, a special preview reception luau will take place on Friday evening, January 30. For ticket information, 978-441-0400, extension 246, or www.athm.org.
In connection with the exhibition, there will be special activities for families in the museum’s Textile Learning Center (TLC), public programs, and special events such as raffles, music, dance and travel presentations.
Commenting on the exhibition, Diane Fagan Affleck, the museum’s director of interpretation, said, “We’ve displayed the shirts in the context of a travel destination to tell the story of how Hawaiian textile traditions have evolved into a standard for resort wear fashion, and how the Hawaiian shirt aesthetic found its way into the American mainstream, including movies, songs and the origin of Casual Friday.
The show has been organized by the American Textile History Museum, curated by Celia Oliver, and designed by Beth Surdut.
The American Textile History Museum is at 491 Dutton Street, adjacent to the Lowell National Historical Park, 35 miles north of Boston off Route I-495. For information, 978-441-0400 or athm.org.