April 07, 2014 by Courtney Denton
Drexel announced March 26 that its expansive collection of historic garments will be renamed the Fox Historic Costume Collection in recognition of a $1 million donation from Robert and Penny Fox.
According to a press release from the Office of University Communications, their generous donation was made in order to make the collection more accessible to the public.
“In addition to preserving thousands of objects of great beauty, the collection can be an even greater source of inspiration for students, faculty and others who value timeless, elegant design and cultural history,” Penny Fox said.
Both Robert and Penny Fox have made noted charitable contributions to institutions in the Philadelphia area. According to the Office of Communications, Penny Fox serves on the board of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Ballet, and the Fox couple has made donations to institutions such as the Moore College of Art & Design and the University of Pennsylvania.
Clare Sauro, the curator for the collection, hinted at an exciting piece of news she was eager to share at the latest educational seminar hosted by the FHCC. This was the second of a series of events hosted by the collection, which explored the motif of floral throughout fashion history. The first event granted ticketed visitors an in-depth presentation on 1920s fashion along with a tour of pieces from the collection itself. Before these events, the collection was available to students and scholars by appointment only.
Sauro, whose 15 years of experience include a position as assistant curator for the collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology, also teaches history of costume courses offered to Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design students through the art and art history department. Trips to the collection are integrated into art history and design survey classes to provide students with examples of designs that were revolutionary for their time, either in their fabrication or the purpose they were meant to serve. Sauro also noted that students often reach out to her to see examples of specific construction techniques or garments from a historically significant designer for research purposes. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of the collection is to provide students with ample examples of exceptionally designed garments and textiles.
“Making this remarkable collection more available to Drexel students as well as historians, scholars, artists and designers requires considerable resources,” President John A. Fry said. “Thanks to Bob and Penny’s incredible generosity, the collection will continue to educate and inspire for generations to come.”
Formerly known as the Drexel Historic Costume Collection, the FHCC can be traced back to the Drexel Collection, started by University founder A.J. Drexel in the 1890s. The collection grew to encompass examples of decorative and fine arts in the interest of educating the Drexel student body. Sauro was brought on in 2008 as the collection’s first full-time curator. The collection’s recent relocation to the URBN Center at 3501 Market St., marks the first time all of its contents have been housed under the same roof. At this time, they only have an estimate of the number of items the collection holds, Sauro said, as they are constantly discovering pieces that had previously gone unnoted.