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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) Opens Beauty as Duty: Textiles on the Home Front in WWII Britain

Set against the backdrop of war-torn Britain—besieged by bombings and deprivations during World War II—a patriotic sense of style flourished, encouraged by the creation of visually striking textiles and fashions for women

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) presents Beauty as Duty: Textiles on the Home Front in WWII Britain an exhibition, on view from October 8, 2011, through May 28, 2012, in the MFA’s Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr. Gallery of Textiles.

The exhibition,will feature propaganda scarves from the collection of Museum benefactors Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, as well as gifts from the Sharfs now in the MFA’s collection, including British Utility fashion and a large lace panel memorializing the Battle of Britain. The exhibition is made possible by the David and Roberta Logie Fund for Textile and Fashion Arts and the Loring Textile Gallery Exhibition Fund.

Strict rationing and restrictions on clothing were in place not only during the war in Britain, but continued through the entire decade of the 1940s. These scarves and dresses were a colorful response to those austerity measures, and ultimately served a propagandistic, morale-building purpose. That spirit of individual sacrifice and rallying for the common good is one of the most intriguing things to me about this period in British history,‖ said Alex Huff, Curatorial Planning and Project Manager in the MFA’s Textile and Fashion Arts Department.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects. The Museum’s collection is made up of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. Admission (which includes two visits in a 10-day period) is $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and children 6 and younger. Youths 17 years of age and younger are admitted for free during non-school hours. On school days until 3 p.m., admission for youths 7–17 will be $10. On Wednesdays after 4 p.m., admission is by voluntary contribution ($22 suggested donation).The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300

Image: Woman’s scarf: “But salvage your rubber”, Designed by: Arnold Lever. For: Jacqmar (English (founded 1932)), English, 1944. Wool. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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