The Department of Textiles and Costume History was established within the museum structure in 1922 (back then it was called the Department of Memorial Dresses, Fabrics and Personal Accessories and Ornaments).
The Department collection formed on the basis of P.I. Shchukin and N.L. Shabelskaya’s collections, later it was expanded by the collections of Museum named after Rumyantsev, Museum of Military History and Museum of 1840s.
Currently, the Department collection contains circa 400 thousand pieces that can be nominally divided into 5 groups:
– The collection of textiles comprised Russian-made fabrics of the 17th – 21st centuries (silk, linen, cotton, wool and synthetic) in samples and in some types of objects (bed- and table-linen, shawls and ribbons of fancy weaving) and fabrics of the 15th – 20th centuries (mostly silk) brought from Iran, Turkey, China, Italy, France and other countries.
– The collection of dresses includes historical clothes of the 16th–18th centuries, vestments, Russian folk costumes, fashionable city costume including headwear, footwear and such accessories as handbags, belts, fans, umbrellas, canes and etc. of the 19th and 20th centuries, military and civil uniforms of the 18th – 20th centuries, ethnic costumes of the Volga Region, Caucasus, Siberia, the Baltic states and the Middle Asia.
– The applied arts collection contains works of embroidery with special emphasis on holy embroideries of the 12th – the early 20th centuries; art laces of the 17th – 20th centuries, carpets and tapestry, objects of leather, beads and Russian bone-carvings.
– State regalia and insignia of state and public organizations, banners and streamers of the 18th – 20th centuries.
– The photos of folk design and fashionable city costume, drawings for embroidery and clothes designs, pattern sketches and fashion albums.
Department employees were always devoted to their work. The first Head of the Department was Vladimir Karlovich Klein — a remarkable connoisseur and researcher of the ancient fabrics. In 1935 he was persecuted for political reasons and died in prison. As Klein Maria Nikolaevna Levinson-Nechaeva worked both in the SHM and in the Kremlin museums. The subject matter of her special scientific interest was clothes of Ancient Russia. Lidia Ivanovna Yakunina, the Head of the Department since 1934, researched the early Russian textile prints. The research results on the history of home-produced textiles obtained by Elizaveta Vasilyevna Arsenyeva were also published.