Making a Statement with Historic Fashion

July 25, 2019

Now working on a master’s degree, Trent University Durham GTA grad Magdelena Samulski showcases tactile opportunity at nearby museum

Magdelena Samulski, Trent University Durham GTA grad with her exhibit of favourite 1890-1930 fashion pieces at the Clarington Museum and Archives
Magdelena Samulski, Trent University Durham GTA grad with her exhibit at the Clarington Museum and Archives

Through an internship placement within Trent’s English M.A. (Public Texts) program, Magdelena Samulski found the perfect runway to tie together her passions for fashion and literature.  Visitors this summer to Waverly House, a historic building under the care of the Clarington Museum and Archives outside of Oshawa, will see her work on full display.

“I have always had a passion for fashion and its production,” said Ms. Samulski of her project at Waverly House. Through her placement, she assessed and sorted the museum’s textile collection and created a digital catalogue. Ultimately, Ms. Samulski was granted the opportunity to curate an exhibit of her favourite fashion pieces from 1890-1930 that are housed at the museum.

“It feels amazing to have created my own exhibit. It has been a really special experience to present my work in such a physical way that the public can see it and hopefully find a passion for it. The Clarington Museum and Archives allowed me to add to their collection and actively participate in the presentation of local history.”

Having worked in museums before, Ms. Samulski was also on hand for the display’s Canada Day grand opening to speak to guests about fashion history.

“By bringing together my research from my school program, the exhibit allowed me to demonstrate how clothing can be read just like other texts. The way people have spoken about fashion or have worn an item can tell you so much about how fashion plays into ideas of politics, class, gender and history.”

In addition to organizing research and working with mentors, Ms. Samulski feels the experience taught her how to think on her feet.

“This is one of two internships that I have completed through Trent. It has made me more employable and provided a great network in several fields.”

In future, she would love to work as a historical fashion consultant for films and television.

“This internship has expanded my repertoire and taught me different ways of relaying knowledge so that when I arrive in my chosen career, these experiences will prove invaluable.”