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  • 1.  Costume Policies

    Posted 08-17-2016 04:03 PM

    Hello all,

    Does your institution have any rules governing whether visitors can wear costumes of any kind on your site?

    Many thanks,


    Alison Wade
    Chief Administrator
    Association of Art Museum Directors
    New York NY

  • 2.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-18-2016 07:43 AM

    As far as I know we don't have a rule about visitors in costume, and periodically we do have visitors attend in costume. I especially notice this with some of our younger visitors. It's always fun to encounter Spider Man or Elsa! We used to have a kiddo that would show up with a dinosaur tail on every time she visited!! Sometimes we also have events (like our fall Science Lounge near Halloween) where costumes are encouraged. Additionally, we offer a number of theatre based programs, so it's quite common to see our Educator/Performers in costume in and around the galleries. 

    Amber Parham
    Museum Educator/Performer
    Denver Museum of Nature & Science
    Denver CO

  • 3.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-18-2016 09:03 AM

    I am not sure that we have a written policy, but we never allow individuals to wear accessioned objects in the collection as it is a conservation issue. In particular, body oils and perspiration are detrimental to the fabrics as well as the stress to seams and the textile in general. This is something we would never do.



    Cynthia Amneus | Chief Curator | Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles

    t 513-639-2943  Email:


    Cincinnati Art Museum  we bring people and art together  @CincyArtMuseum

    eden park | 953 eden park drive | cincinnati ohio | 45202


  • 4.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-18-2016 09:39 AM

    Hi Alison:


    I worked at a historic site for a few years as a costumed interpreter, and we did not like it when adults wore historic costumes on the site because in many cases, visitors considered them to be staff.  Usually they were very active in talking to people and we'd sometimes hear outright wrong information being given. We didn't want strangers who potentially had no knowledge of the site or the subject matter to be interpreting the site to our visitors.  We had no formal policy about it, though we probably should have.  We as interpreters tried to check in from time-to-time to see what they were up to and that was the extent of it.  While that's a specific problem for historic sites, I could see someone dressing up in an old fashioned dress and talking to visitors in a history museum's gallery.


    I think that's the main problem you encounter and the main reason historic costumes should be discouraged, unless there has been a previous arrangement like bringing in a visiting reenactment group or having a special event.  People can be seen as agents of the museum and can speak on behalf of your institution without consulting you.  That said, as a collections manager I have no problem with Halloween costumes or something fun, so long as it's not offensive or inappropriate, and isn't unsafe to artifacts or visitors.  And so long as it's clear that they're not representing the institution.




    Geoff Woodcox

    Assistant Curator of Collections

    State Historical Society of North Dakota

    612 E Boulevard Avenue

    Bismarck, ND 58505

    (701) 328-3608





  • 5.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-18-2016 10:01 AM
    Edited by Lisa Making 08-18-2016 10:10 AM

    Hi Alison,

    I work in a palaeontology museum so you can only imagine how many kids come dressed up as dinosaurs or palaeontologists on a regular basis. These past couple of years though we've been getting more and more adults coming in various costumes (thanks to T. rex Tuesday). 

    While we don't have a documented policy we worked with our frontline staff to develop an understanding. If people call in advance to ask if they can come in costume we let them know they can but we'd prefer they come at quieter times (evenings in particular) and they are not to disrupt other visitors. Should they simply arrive all-decked-out we ask that they not interfere with other visitors and to use caution near the exhibits.

    At all times our gallery security keeps an eye on them (not stalking, just keeping an eye out). To date there haven't been any problems. But we recently had a note from a parent who was planning a trip to our museum and his son was absolutely terrified of clowns; his father wanted to ensure we had no clowns on site. So you never know. 

    It is tricky and definitely something we are keeping an eye on. There are individuals who suffer from agoraphobia and find comfort in dealing with being in the public in costume. Others are looking to produce a video of them being in a dinosaur museum dressed in dinosaur costume. As long as people are safe and still enjoying their visit to the museum who are we to judge. 

    There may come a time when we need to develop a policy but until then we'll watch and see how people are interacting. 

    To note, our museum does have a visitor code of conduct which we share openly onsite and online:
     Royal Tyrrell Museum | Visit | Code of Conduct

    Tyrrellmuseum remove preview
    Royal Tyrrell Museum | Visit | Code of Conduct
    Visitor Code of Conduct information.
    View this on Tyrrellmuseum >

     Hope this helps!

    Lisa Making
    Director, Exhibits & Communications
    Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
    Drumheller AB

  • 6.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-19-2016 06:27 AM


    We do have a costume policy at our museum. We had to implement said policy because Pittsburgh is the host to the annual Anthro-Con (a LARGE gathering of persons dressed as animals). We do not allow masks of any type or tails. However, a close-fitting costume without a tail or mask is fine.

    the warhol:
    Erin Beveridge
    Exhibitions Department
    117 Sandusky Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15212
    T 412.237.8348
    F 412.237.8340

  • 7.  RE: Costume Policies

    Posted 08-22-2016 11:18 AM

    And then this happens... 

    Faux Victorian couple ejected from Butchart Gardens for fancy attire

    tl;dr - Facility has policy posted on web. Victorian lifestyle enthusiasts fail to read it and are turned away. Angry blogpost ensues. 

    Butchart Gardens could have dealt with it a little better, but the visitors in question should have had more of a clue. 

    David Kennedy
    Curator of Collections and Exhibits
    US Marshals Museum
    Fort Smith, AR