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The Purse and the Person: A Century of Women’s Purses

April 21, 2006 — July 04, 2006


While archaeologists may create a picture of an individual from a cache of artifacts buried deep in the earth, this exhibition brought together life stories buried right under our noses—in the purses carried by our mothers and grandmothers. Developed from a private collection of nearly 2,000 handbags, each vignette in this exhibit combined purses with the everyday objects that filled them. Glimpse into the lives of Edwardian matrons, flappers, wartime Rosie the Riveters, suburban housewives, hippies, businesswomen, and more. The women of the 20th century revealed their personalities, their fashion sense and their day-to-day concerns brought out in the mysterious depths of their purses.