The “Proper Ladies: Dressing to Impress in the Victorian Era” exhibit is now on display at the Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum in downtown Norman.
As Norman’s only local history museum, the mission of the Moore-Lindsay House is to keep the history of Norman alive, according to the museum’s website. The Victorian style house was converted to a museum in 1975, and it has been working to educate its visitors ever since.
The “Proper Ladies” exhibit features four mannequins throughout the museum dressed in different Victorian styles, said Amy Pence, the museum manager. Each mannequin is dressed as a Victorian woman would for different activities, like a dinner party or afternoon tea.
“It's just basically a comparison of what was required of women to be considered proper at the time, as opposed to what you would see today, and the cost comparison as well,” Pence said.
The exhibit was designed by Heather Franks, an intern at the Moore-Lindsay House and a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma.
“Fashion and history are my two passions, so they naturally come together in costume curation,” Franks said in an email. “I feel that, while not everyone may understand an art exhibit, myself included sometimes, we all wear clothing. It’s an amazing way to have a visitor relate to a time period. You automatically put yourself in those clothes. What would it feel like to wear all the layers, or button up shoes?”
Due to the pandemic, masks are required upon entry, and capacity is limited to 10 people, according to the museum’s website. Commonly touched surfaces are cleaned after each group, and social distancing guidelines are in place.
The Moore-Lindsay House is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Self-guided tours are available at any time in this period, and guided tours are available without reservation at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Virtual visits are also available here.
The “Proper Ladies” exhibit is on display through April 24, and admission is free. For more information, visit the museum’s website, or call (405) 321-0156.
“Cosmetics, hair extensions, undergarments — many of these are familiar to women today, but we have the luxury of choosing to go grab a gallon of milk in our jammy pants if we want,” Franks said in the email. “That was absolutely unthinkable for Victorian women. I wanted women, and men, too, to see how similar things were, and also how much freedom we have now.”