Uniforms in the round

We’ve launched a new online uniform display, enabling viewers to see key pieces in the round.

The gallery features 360 degree rotations of ten of the most precious items from our uniform collection, some of which are currently not on public display.

The online gallery also includes biographical information about the original wearer of each uniform, as well as background information about the historical context, detailed measurements and pattern information.

“We were awarded Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Funding which is allowing us more opportunities to bring our uniforms to a wider audience – opening up our collection to museum visitors, as well as individuals with specific interests,” explains Director and Curator, Lynda Powell. “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. 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 has made these special uniforms available for all to see.”

As well as the online gallery, the two year uniform project involves a range of activity including improved storage of archive uniforms and specialist staff training. A team of dedicated volunteers has worked to create more than 40 bespoke mannequins for uniforms currently on display in the museum in the centre of Richmond’s market place.

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

“We looked at best practice examples of displaying historic clothing on the web; thinking about how to give the visitor a great experience when looking at the uniforms online,” says Maraid’s Jane McDevitt. “We found a photographer who understood the technicalities involved during the photo-shoot, then used his images with javascript to create a seemingly single 360 degree ‘image’ which allows visitors to scroll, zoom and look at further detailed photographs.”

Some of the uniforms are incredibly rare, such as a complete private soldier’s uniform from the time of the Crimean War, and a highly embellished volunteer militiaman’s patrol jacket from the mid 19th century.

“This was 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 shoot. The uniform needed to stand perfectly straight, spin on an axis, and we needed to turn it in increments of 36 to one full rotation. The lens of the camera also needed to be exactly in line with the centre of the dummy so there was no wobble on the final 360 degree spin.”

See for yourself – visit the uniform gallery.