Call for undies


Help the White River Valley Museum ‘shape’ their next exhibit

Auburn’s White River Valley Museum is looking for help in putting together an exhibit of pre-1970 womens’ undergarments. Photo courtesy of White River Valley Museum

In preparation for mounting a new version of the very popular “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit, the White River Valley Museum (918 H St. SE in Auburn) is seeking donations of historic women’s undergarments and quirky “beauty” and health aids. “Suffer for Beauty: Women’s History Revealed by Undergarments” will be on display at the White River Valley Museum from January through June 2018 and the search for key items is on.

“While our artifact collection is rich and diverse, we do not own several items needed for this upcoming display,” said Museum Director Patricia Cosgrove. “Fashion has dictated that the ideal female body shape keep changing. In the 1920s a woman’s body was ideally straight and boyish, but after World War II we wanted an hourglass form. Remember 36-24-36? So, in order to accommodate fashion, women turned to shape-altering undergarments.”

The kind of objects the Museum is seeking are historic bustles, waist cinchers, bullet or whirlpool bras, and girdles. Ideal items were owned or used by local people and for the most part date before 1970.

Along with women’s underclothes the Museum is looking for a few very quirky items such as a Mark Eden Bust Developer, large prickly hair curlers, an electric corset, a dimple making machine, nighttime facial mask, blue light acne healing wand or other historic items used in the pursuit of the ideal female look and form.

If you want to find out if grandma’s corset or other unique items might be of use to the Museum, contact Patricia Cosgrove at (253) 288-7437 or

About the White River Valley Museum:

The White River Valley Museum creates an exciting and educational experience for visitors through a series of award-winning exhibits and programs on regional cultures, arts and history. The Museum’s artifact collections focus on Puget Sound history, Northwest Native culture, Japanese immigration and the Northern Pacific Railway.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. On the first Thursday of each month the hours are extended from 6-8 p.m. It is located at 918 H St. S.E. in Auburn. Regular admission is $5 adults, $2 seniors and children, children 2 years of age or younger are always free. Admission is free for everyone all day on the first Thursday and the third Sunday of every month. Call (253) 288-7433 or visit for event information.

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