After a full season of costume design for theatre plays, The University of Southern Mississippi Costume Shop set some time aside to address a need for quality costumes for the Mississippi Children’s Museum located in Jackson, Miss.
“A few months ago, we got a call from the museum saying they were in desperate need of some costumes for their dress-up areas in the museum,” said Kelly James – Penot, costume shop supervisor. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for our students to continue developing their costume construction skills for the remainder of the semester.”
After receiving a donation from a Jackson fabric store, student designers in the costume shop worked tirelessly for three weeks sewing imaginative costumes for the Mississippi Children’s Museum.
On Tuesday, May 3, the museum’s executive director, Susan Garrard, and director of education, Alicen Blanchard, visited Southern Miss to pick up the costumes and meet with the designers personally.
“This has been a great gift, an amazing partnership with the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the USM costume shop and the Department of Theatre,” Blanchard said. “We’re excited to build this wonderful relationship and thankful to Kelly and the group of students who have made these beautiful costumes for us.”
Southern Miss students made princess gowns, poodle skirts, knight tunics and spider costumes. Children will wear the costumes as they explore the museum’s five exhibits: Exploring Mississippi Gallery; Wild About Reading Gallery; Healthy Fun Gallery; Express Yourself Gallery and the World at Work Gallery.
Garrard said the museum is dedicated to education and learning through interactive play. “We’re really there for family and children to ages 0-12,” she said. “We’re primarily focused on two key challenges that face Mississippi children: health and literacy.”
Costumes designed by students like Stephanie Abby, a first-year master’s of fine arts candidate in costume design from Millington, Tenn., will help make the educational experience that much more enjoyable for the children. Abby designed three spider costumes for the museum’s underground section where the children learn about insects and animals.
“I think it’s great that we have the opportunity as the costume shop and with the university to give back to the community and to allow for these children to benefit from the things we love to do anyway,” Abby said.