Boasting original pieces from Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and others, the Beeman Historic Costume Collection illustrates the progression and evolution of fashion through the decades, featuring an extensive range of clothing such as couture ensembles, ready-to-wear outfits, and a wool swimsuit.

Composed of clothing and apparel items for men and women of all ages, the Beeman Collection offers more than 3,000 pieces dating back to the late 1700s. This extensive collection of 20th century apparel—as well as a variety of reference materials including fashion plates and sewing patterns dating from 1890—serves as a key supplemental tool for students.

“We like to show pieces that will help students relate to a certain decade, whether it is stonewashed jeans from the 1980s or peasant blouses from the 1970s,” says Diana Saiki, collection curator.

The collection, housed in the Applied Technology building, has also been used to educate and entertain the Muncie community. Every three months, an exhibition of clothing and apparel items celebrate the ever-changing face of fashion.

The collection began in the 1930s when the Frank C. Ball family presented Mary Beeman, head of what was then known as the Department of Home Economics, with a steamer trunk filled with items of apparel.

Such an elaborate collection can be maintained only through financial support and commitment. The Beeman Historic Costume Collection endowment facilitates the attention and storage required to keep the items intact and in the best possible condition.