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September 20, 2023

Science History Institute's new exhibit explores history of textile dyes

The free museum will unveil its latest program with a kickoff party featuring a fashion show and take-home denim tote bags

Arts & Culture Exhibits
Science History Institute Bold Exhibit Provided Image/Science History Institute

The Science History Institute's latest exhibit, "BOLD: Color From Test Tube to Textile," opens Sept. 22. Pictured above is a worker give fabric a dye bath.

It can be easy to take for granted the processes involved in creating the clothes we wear, but a new exhibit at the Science History Institute aims to shed light on one aspect of textile creation: dyes.

"BOLD: Color From Test Tube to Textile" explores the 150-year-old history of textile dyes and how they end up on runways and department store shelves. The exhibit opens in the Old City museum's Hach Gallery on Sept. 22. 

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"BOLD" focuses on the dye-making process and innovations made in the textile industry from the late 1800s through most of the 20th century. The exhibit also inspects the environmental cost of dye-making and showcases sustainable businesses that hope to protect the planet from clothing waste. 

“At a moment of heightened awareness over consumer goods like fast fashion, ‘BOLD’ is a timely exploration of the ways we’ve... chosen to color it,” said Jesse Smith, director of curatorial affairs at the Institute.

An opening reception will take place from 5-8 p.m. this Friday. The event features a talk hosted by Elisabeth Berry Drago, the Institute’s director of visitor engagement and curator of the exhibit, a fashion show, crafts and a monetary prize for the most vibrant outfit. The reception's first 150 visitors will receive a denim tote bag filled with museum swag. 

The kickoff party and exhibit are free to attend and open to the public. Those attending the reception are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite.

'BOLD: Color From Test Tube to Textile' 

Opens Sept. 22
Kickoff party 5-8 p.m., exhibit open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Free
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106