Birmingham Historical Museum gives a nod to headwear

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 23, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — Through November, the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park is hosting an exhibit that tips a hat to fashionable and functional headdresses of years past.

The special exhibition, called “Hats Off! A Curious Selection of Hats,” will feature hats from Birmingham’s past, worn by local men and women during different eras and surroundings. The collection is made up of hats from the museum’s own collection and items donated by Birmingham residents, as well as a few special pieces to illustrate the huge role that headwear played in lives not so long ago.

“The focus is on why and when people wear hats, for both aesthetic reasons and functional reasons,” said Elyssa Bisoski, museum assistant.

From a World War II-era garrison cap to a beautiful 1950s sunhat, and all kinds of millinery creations scattered in between, the exhibit is sure to appeal to guests of all interests, Bisoski said. Along with vintage hats on display, “Hats Off!” will feature a number of hats created by Bollman Hat Co., each in various stages of completion to demonstrate the intricate detail that goes into making a hat.

The hat exhibition is a perfect complement to the museum’s other current display of objects from community members, titled “Conversation Pieces: Let’s Talk Birmingham!”

In addition to locally sourced artifacts for guests to admire, younger museum-goers can enjoy children’s activities, including a matching game and coloring pages. On Sept. 14, kids are invited to a family-friendly event to celebrate the “Hats Off!” exhibit, with a special reading and a fun hat-making activity. The day begins at 11 a.m. and is free with registration.

“To me, I can’t imagine wearing a hat every day. It’s kind of sad that tradition has gone away,” said Jennifer O’Hare, museum program assistant.

“Hats Off! A Curious Selection of Hats” will be on display until Nov. 9 at the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and free for children 5 and younger. Two hours of free parking is available across the street from the museum.

For more information, call the museum at (248) 530-1928. The Birmingham Historical Museum and Park is located at 556 W. Maple Road in Birmingham.