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METC Opens New Exhibit: The Milliner's Tale: the Craft of Hat Making

Mary Hann, Manager; Meg Wastie, Curator of Ed.; Kristin Lapos, Curatorial Intern; Deborah Farrar Starker, Executive Director; Cathy Walter, METC Assistant; Erin O'Donnell, Coordinator
Ellen Colon-Lugo of Ellen Christine Couture, Inc.; Kathy Anderson of Hats by Kat and Accessories Too; Conney Borda of Eggcup Designs; Monika Stebbins; Wanda Chambers of Once Upon a Hat.
Deborah Farrar Starker, Executive Director; Meg Wastie, Curator of Education; Kristin Lapos, Curatorial Intern; Monika Stebbins, milliner and co-curator  

Madison, NJ – On Sunday, January 17, 2016 the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts (METC) celebrated the opening of its latest exhibit, The Milliner's Tale: the Craft of Hat Making, with an opening reception attended by METC Trustees, museum members, and award-winning milliners wearing their finest hats. The exhibit will run through June 29th, 2016 and examines the changing landscape of the millinery trade over the last two centuries.

The new exhibit is a collaboration with guest curator, Monika Stebbins, Madison resident, and award-winning milliner. Ms. Stebbins worked closely with METC Executive Director Deborah Farrar Starker, Curatorial Intern Kristin Lapos and Curator of Education, Meg Wastie to create an exhibit that examines the millinery trade from the 18th-20th century perspective of the milliner as a craftsperson.

"Collaborating with Monika has been extremely enjoyable. Her breadth of knowledge about the history of millinery and her expertise were invaluable throughout the entire process," commented Deborah Farrar Starker, METC's Executive Director.

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Beginning in the late 18th century, the millinery trade provided women with an acceptable occupation at a time when few women worked outside the home. The exhibit has a stunning selection of hats dating from 1760 that show the outer beauty and the complicated techniques used to make them. Visitors are taken through the historical eras of the millinery trade and cultural aspects of hat wearing and how one hat can speak volumes about the milliner and the hat wearer.

Also attending the opening were Kathy Anderson of Hats by Kat and Accessories Too, Conney Borda of Eggcup Designs, Wanda Chambers of Once Upon a Hat, and Ellen Colon-Lugo of Ellen Christine Designs, all accomplished milliners from The Milliner's Guild, an organization that supports the design, production, and promotion of handmade headwear. Ms. Anderson, Ms. Borda and Ms. Colon Lugo contributed examples of modern millinery for the exhibit. METC worked closely with the Morris Museum, and the Morris County Historical Society/Acorn Hall to include objects from the collections of historically important hats.

Visitors to METC can explore American history with a focus on the life and stories of 18th- and 19th- century craftsmen and artisans. Drawing on its rich collection, METC connects the lives of people and their stories, while providing a bridge from the past to the future. Housed in a stunning Richardsonian Romanesque Revival building donated by D. Willis James to the people of Madison, NJ in 1900, METC offers something for visitors of all ages.

METC is located at 9 Main Street in the heart of downtown Madison, NJ. Regular hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.  For more information, please call 973-377-2982 x10 or visit our website at

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