Theatre Museum

Kick-off: Documentation project of costume work in performing arts


In January 2018 the Theatre Museum in Helsinki kicks off a crowdsourced documentation project that aims to capture the every-day costume work in field of performing arts. The Costume Day 2018 invites professionals of the costume field – costume designers and makers, dressers, and costume maintenance professionals – to document their work in the form of photography, writing, or video and audio recordings.

The costume professionals’ work can be traced in costume sketches, performance photos and recordings in Theatre Museum’s collections, but the daily work and processes are less often documented. However, from the costume research point of view, they are very much of interest, and therefore the Theatre Museum welcomes all the materials collected through the documentation project to be included in its collections.

Liisi Tandefelt ja pukuluonnokset

The world is in constant change, and different contemporary phenomena can be documented only in the present moment. What is currently happening in the costume branch of performing arts? What type of information and data do we lose unless we document it now?

The significance of contemporary documentation is understood in museums, but the scarcity of resources makes it difficult for the curators to find the time it requires. Hence, new methods are needed. The idea to crowdsource the documentation of costume work was ignited when costume researcher and designer Joanna Weckman hosted a discussion on the subject on her Facebook wall in autumn 2017. Many participants agreed with her in that more documentation is needed in the field and the people doing hands-on work could play a part in the process.

We hope that crowdsourcing will turn out to be an efficient and professional way to carry out contemporary documentation. The professionals in the field of costume in the performing arts have the best knowledge on what aspects of their work should be recorded. By documenting their own work, costume professionals can take part in building the history of their profession and the art form. Responsibility of our cultural heritage belongs to all of us.

We are now calling all costume professionals to document their own and their colleagues’ work and send in the materials to the Theatre Museum archives. The project runs until the end of April 2018.

Guidance and instructions can be found at the Museum website (in Finnish):
The instructions can be translated into English if and when necessary, please contact us!

For more information, please contact:
Eeva Mustonen, Archivist, tel. 040 1922 308, eeva.mustonen @
Sanna Brander, Curator (Artefact Collections), tel. 040 1922 307, sanna.brander @

These photos are from a series of work photos taken in Turku City Theatre in 1976. In these photos, costume designer Liisi Tandefelt works on costumes used in ’Rasvahattu’ production. Photos: Klaus Koszubatis / Theatre Museum archives.

Liisi Tandefelt ja pukusovitus