Australian Museum of Clothing And Textiles Inc.

known as


P.O. Box 621

Maitland  NSW  2320 


Why have a Museum of Clothing and Textiles?

Australia has a rich history of clothing and textiles, from Aboriginal woven artefacts, to woollen mills and clothing manufacturers;  from makers of household items to industrial fibre makers.  Just as important were home dress-making and the making and beautification of household linen.  

Textiles are generally regarded as useful items, not as precious pieces of fine art to be saved and passed to future generations.  As useful items, clothing and textiles wore out or went out of fashion, and much has been lost to us today.  Yet present generations should know about the past so they can make judgments about the future.  Much can be learned by the methods employed by previous generations in producing clothing and textiles, and beautiful styles can be recreated from the examples still available.  What items remain therefore, should be preserved and displayed in context, educating us all on the clothing and textiles of the past.

While some museums in Australia have collections of clothing and textiles as part of their general collections, no one museum is specifically devoted to this area of interest.  By concentrating on this area we hope to become a centre of knowledge and excellence for clothing and textiles in Australia.


Why Maitland?

One local Maitland woman, Nell Pyle, has amassed well over 2,000 articles of diverse clothing and textiles from past generations of her family as well as many donors who wish their items to be preserved and cared for.  The items currently date from the 1860s and range from working clothes and accessories through to refined garments worn by all classes, and an extensive range of household linen and adornments.   Nell has regularly held displays of parts of her collection and is often asked to be a guest speaker and tell the history of some of the items in her care.  These events always elicit much interest and enthusiasm, but the call now from the public and Nell herself is for it to be properly cared for, preserved and be available to the wider public indefinitely.  The strong desire to document each piece and educate the public as to its history and usage, is high on Nell's list of priorities, and has been taken up by what has become the nucleus of AMCAT's membership, thereby instigating the set up of a Museum.

The Maitland and Hunter areas in particular supported many textile manufacturers such as Bradmill, Osti, Katies, Courtaulds and Dri-glo in the last century.  Several groups within Maitland including Maitland Embroiderers Inc. and Maitland Patchwork and Quilters also have locally hand made heirloom examples of clothing and textiles in their possession which need to be preserved.  With this social and working history combined with a collection which needs to be housed, the heritage centre of Maitland is ready to add a Museum to its worthy historical backdrop.  We see the addition of a Clothing and Textile Museum as being a major drawcard to Maitland for a previously untapped 'market' which will bring people from near and far to visit and stay in our historic city.  Although AMCAT will eventually house clothing and textiles from all areas of Australia, the initial acquisitions are from the Maitland area.


Our Vision

To collect, conserve, document and display items of clothing and textiles and related materials, both domestic and commercial, from Australia's earliest times to the present day, and to display and interpret them in their historical context.


Our initial objectives

* To set up an organisation to be known as the Australian Museum of Clothing And Textiles Inc. - AMCAT (incorporated in April 2005)

* To Develop a Business Plan (now complete, but will need to be updated as we progress)

* To Develop a Strategic Plan (now in place), which includes:


What stage is AMCAT currently at?

The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles was Incorporated in March 2005.  Our first official meeting took place on 21st April 2005 and we have organised many small "Parades" at meetings and functions and held our first major stand alone exhibition in June and July 2006. At our recent Annual General Meeting held on 16th October 2006 the following positions were elected: 

President:         Justine Malinowski
Vice President:  Sandy Earle
Secretary:         Lynette Begg
Treasurer:         Clem Ellis
Committee:       Helen O'Brien
                        Stephanie Rogers
                        Aileen White


Collections Convenor -           Lynette McDowell
Events Convenor -                 Stephanie Rogers
Dynamic Displays Convenor - Nell Pyle
Finance Convenor -               Clem Ellis

* * *  NEWS FLASH  * * *

We have a storage facility!

AMCAT will 'take possession' of a storage facility on 1st September 2005.  Maitland City Council has given us the old Medical Centre inside Maitland Gaol for office and storage space for a very reasonable rental!  To say we are delighted is grossly understating our excitement and gratitude.  We can now proceed with cataloguing the collection, documenting each item's history, accessing it for significance and working on conserving all items in an appropriate environment using archival storage material.

* * * * * *


We are currently planning exhibits, fund raising, advertising and promotional activities reaching beyond 2006.  So far we have:

Our next "Dynamic Display" will be at Cellar in the Cells at Maitland Gaol on 29th and 30th October. AMCAT is providing clothing of the past century to compliment the designs of High School and TAFE students who have entered a Young Designers competition for new and innovative designs of the future.



  • Ordinary membership - $25 per year

  • 2 members living in the same household -  $40 per year (1 newsletter between two members)

  • For membership form, please click here  After printing it out, please fill it in and post it to us with a cheque or money order for the appropriate amount to P.O. Box 621, Maitland NSW 2320.



    Currently held the 3rd Thursday evening of the month from 7.30 pm.  The venue is not permanently set but for 2005 will be held at Maitland Golf Club. Please email for more details.  

    The next scheduled meeting will be on Thursday 17th October, 2005 in the Meeting Room at Easts Leisure and Golf, (formerly Maitland Golf Club) Sinclair Street, East Maitland at 7.30 pm.  Anyone with interest, experience or expertise is very welcome.  


    To underpin AMCAT Inc. we are developing a sound Administrative base -

    * We have developed both a business plan and a strategic plan which are operational.

    * Seeking sponsorships and donations, and applying for grants and appropriate funding from government departments.

    * Instigating fund-raising activities


    To develop a viable Museum, we will undertake the following activities -

    * Actively publicise our existence and our attractions

    * Set up displays which are regularly changed

    * Provide visitors with opportunities to interact with clothing and textile material

    * Run workshops and lectures on clothing and textile related arts and crafts

    * Encourage school groups to use AMCAT for curricula-related activities

    * Train volunteers in their area of interest in the Museum work, eg. conservation, cataloguing, guiding, exhibition design

    * Seek donations of suitable items for the Museum


    Where are we up to at the moment? 

    So far, for a small but enthusiastic group who first met together in January 2005, we have achieved much.  We have become an incorporated body, have developed business and strategic plans, have found a storage facility from which to operate as a business and where the collection can begin to be catalogued and preserved appropriately.  We have advised the local community of our existence through a Public Meeting and received tremendous support, encouragement and new members.  We have contact with several Museum Curators and Conservators who are very helpful in giving advise and assistance.  We have gained a sponsor from Albox who are archival storage suppliers, have received great assistance from local Council Officers and Councillors.   

    However, we still need a lot of help to realise our goal of a permanent Museum.  If you are interested in providing us with help in any of the areas listed below, or joining us as a supporter or sponsor, we would love to hear from you.  Please email us or write to us at our post office box (P.O. Box 621, Maitland 2320) for further information and contact details.

    How can you help?


    What we need now.....


    - financial, product or services

    - an up to date computer for cataloguing the collection

    - cataloguing program eg. Mosaic

    - acid free wrapping, storage and display 'material'

    - product, which can be given as prizes at an event, or used to raise funds

    - sponsorship of AMCAT as a Museum

    - sponsorship of an individual exhibition

    - sponsorship from societies, associations, sporting or service clubs to purchase fixtures, fittings and storage equipment

    - sponsorship for hire or purchase of computer, vehicle, fixtures, fittings, storage and display equipment etc.

    - sponsorship of education and training for committee members and volunteer workers

    - premises for permanent Museum

    - suitable clothing and textiles to increase the collection

    - approved fixtures and fittings, storage equipment, display cabinets and cases, etc.

    - "props", "associated items" or memorabilia, etc. for interest between displayed items once the Museum is permanently housed and for static exhibitions, eg. grandfather clock, wooden tables, chairs, china crockery, household items, tools, sewing extras, carpet mats or runners, arm chairs, etc.

    - vehicle for transporting our travelling exhibition 


    Experience and Expertise

    - with publicity

    - with fundraising

    - lobbying for a 'home'

    - conservation and preservation of clothing and textiles

    - restoration and repair of damaged and old clothing and textiles

    - liasing with government officials

    - applying for grants

    - as a Curator of a Museum, or have operated or worked in a Museum in any capacity

    - printing/publishing newsletters, advertising, newspaper releases, pamphlets, promotional posters, etc.

    - hospitality and/or catering

    - display skills for static display setting out and presentation



    Interest or knowledge

    - of clothing or textile manufacturing

    - in dating clothing fashion through each era

    - identifying fabric and thread types 

    - social history

    - family history

    - Maitland's history

    - helping during travelling exhibition - with hospitality, driving, models to wear period clothing, helping models dress, handing out brochures, etc.

    - simple enthusiasm for preserving history in the form of material and therefore social, everyday items

    - helping where needed, when needed - open to anyone, regardless of skills



    AMCAT needs members.  No matter whether you are interested in preserving clothing and textiles, or you see the potential for increasing tourism to Maitland through having a unique Museum in our historic town, AMCAT needs you.  Membership shows your support.  Membership shows Government departments and ministers that an organisation is a credible and active organisation.  Membership along with a sound Business and Strategic Plan wins grants.  Membership helps supply funds with which to 'get things moving'. 

    Membership will provide you with an outlet for your enthusiasm, your passion, your expertise or experience.  Membership will supply you with posted minutes of every meeting, and a newsletter once it is established.  Membership will provide you with a sense of achievement when in 20-30 years time, you can tell your descendants that YOU were one of the people who helped start the Australian Museum of Clothing And Textiles Inc. 

    To be a member, you don't have to live in or near Maitland.  If you would like to join, please click here  for our membership form.  Please print it out, fill it in and post it to us with a cheque or money order for the appropriate amount.  We will send you a receipt by return mail. 


    Businesses, companies, clubs and organisations are encouraged to sponsor AMCAT in whichever way they feel is appropriate for their group.  Some suggestions are made under "Donations" above.  We are in the final stages of producing our Prospectus which is expected to be available by the end of September.  If you would like a copy, please contact us by email or post, and we will gladly send one to you. If you would like to discuss sponsorship with us, please email us for personal contact details.

    We look forward to hearing from you.


    ALBOX Australia is the preferred Archival storage supplier to the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles Inc.  When ordering archival products from the ALBOX website, please ensure you have �AMCAT� selected in the reference box. This reference can assist Albox to continue their support of the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles Inc.


    Thank you for taking care of your heirlooms and at the same time, supporting AMCAT in this way. Click on the logo to direct you to the ALBOX web site.




    Page last updated on 3rd November, 2006.