Uniforms from all angles

We’re creating an online collection featuring 360 degree rotations of ten precious uniform items.

It’s another strand in our ‘Textiles with Tales’ project.  As well as the online gallery, the two year uniform project involves a range of activity including, improved storage of archive uniforms, improved display system of uniforms on show in the museum galleries and specialist staff training.

“We have more than 1000 items of uniform; it’s impossible to display them all, but they form a very important part of our archive. explains Director and Curator, Lynda Powell.  “The quality and significance of our uniform collection is well known within military and specialist circles; there’s less awareness in other sectors, but no reason for that to continue to be the case and our digital project will make these special uniforms available for all to see.”

The museum team have been working with York based web company, Maraid Design and professional photographer, Peter Byrne, to create the online uniform gallery.

A trial run, using a specially created lazy-susan style rotating base, was a success and the team will photograph the tunics, coats and jackets at the end of September, ready for online viewing in spring 2018.

“This is a really interesting job,” says photographer Peter Byrne. “Firstly the uniforms are fascinating, and secondly there are a number of technical problems to be solved during the photoshoot. Firstly we used studio lights to light the uniform evenly on a white background and we had to spend a considerable amount of time ensuring everything lines up perfectly! The dummy wearing the uniform needs to stand perfectly straight, spin on an axis, and we need to turn it in increments of 36 to one full rotation. The lens of the camera also needs to be exactly in line with the centre of the dummy so there is no wobble on the final 360 degree spin. When the 36 photos are taken they will be cleaned up on the computer and all alignments are double checked.”

The ten uniform collection items included in the project are:
• Townsend’s full dress coat 1780
• Stansfield’s coatee 1829 – 1837
• Stansfield’s frockcoat 1829 – 1837
• Private’s coatee (Crimean War) 1854
• Kirke’s patrol jacket 1867 – 1881
• Levin’s tunic 1869 – 1879
• Eden’s tunic 1881 – 1899
• Carr’s militia coatee c1806
• Mickelson’s militia coatee 1820
• Captain’s militia patrol jacket

To enable us to complete the project, selected uniform items have been removed from the galleries.  Please bear this in mind when planning your visit.  The museum team are on hand to help with any queries you may have regarding the uniforms and the wider project. All uniforms will be returned to their display cases by Friday 6 October.

Textiles with Tales has been made possible through Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Funding.