Beautiful: the Changing Faces of Beauty & Cosmetics

What makes a woman beautiful? Society’s answer changed significantly between 1870 and 1970. For better or worse, our appearance communicates something to the people around us. As cultural attitudes and codes of morality changed, so did the standards of beauty. The tools, products, and techniques that were utilized to create the ideal look tell the stories of women’s daily lives, cultural attitudes about gender and race, and the empowerment of women.
 
The new exhibit now installed at the Montgomery Museum of Art & History explores these concepts through an array of historic cosmetics and beauty aids. The impact on the beauty industry for women economically was important. The story of the young women at Christiansburg Institute who took cosmetology as part of their vocational training is told with the display of rarely seen artifacts on loan from Christiansburg Institute, Inc. Their coursework could provide a means to a viable career. Further illustrating the story of beauty attitudes and techniques are advertisements, hair care equipment and accessories, period photographs, and cosmetics packages.
 
From the influence of the moving picture industry, to the idea of women exhibiting their patriotism through their red lipstick, the exhibit raises the question: Was the rise in cosmetics empowering to women or did it exacerbate the attitude that a woman’s value was only in her appearance? Join us to view this exhibit and decide for yourself what it means to be beautiful.

New History Exhibit Now Open

If you’ve ever received a free tote bag or key chain carrying a business logo, you are familiar with promotional novelties. If you’ve ever wondered who thought of putting company logos on serving plates and salad tongs, you’ll want to join us to view the upcoming exhibit at the Montgomery Museum. You’ll see rare glimpses of long-closed businesses, view quirky novelties, and be amazed at the large assortment of goods carrying local logos!

The first promotional novelties in the United States were buttons created to commemorate the inauguration of George Washington in 1789. By the late 1800s, enterprising businessmen in Coshocton, Ohio had launched a new industry that offered advertising on everything from burlap book bags to fly swatters, yardsticks, and metal souvenir trays.

 The incredible (and continuing) success of non-paper advertising was based on visibility and loyalty. When placed on a utilitarian object, the ad remained in view of both the piece’s owner as well as anyone the owner came in contact with while using the item. The “free gift” nature of the novelties created a sense of loyalty and obligation towards the business.

Visit the Montgomery Museum’s new exhibit to see an abundance of useful goods and clever novelties that were offered to encourage new business and retain customers. Owners of large stores in Christiansburg and small general store owners in communities like Riner, Ironto, and Cambria all gave away items emblazoned with their business name.

The exhibited items highlight past businesses and illustrate how we once shopped. We hope you will join us.

Museum Minute

Visit our Facebook page to learn interesting snippets about Montgomery County history. Our new “Museum Minute” video tours have been entertaining to learn to produce to say the least! These short videos feature museum staff introducing you to some of the items on display in the museum exhibits.

Museum Minute 1.0 – Spirit of Progress: Women in the 1920s

The Montgomery Museum's curator gives a short tour of the Spirit of Progress exhibit looking at the changes for women during the 1920s in Montgomery County, Virginia.

Posted by Montgomery Museum of Art & History on Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Museum Minute 1.1 – Spirit of Progress: Transportation in the 1920s

The Montgomery Museum's curator gives a short tour of the Spirit of Progress exhibit looking at how changes in transportation effected businesses during the 1920s in Montgomery County, Virginia.

Posted by Montgomery Museum of Art & History on Monday, April 13, 2020
Museum Minute 1.2 – 1920s: Music, Entertainment, and Racial Inequality

The Montgomery Museum's curator gives a short tour of the Spirit of Progress exhibit discussing various types of entertainment available during the 1920s in Montgomery County, Virginia. Places of entertainment were one of many areas where the severe racial inequality and segregation of this period can be found.

Posted by Montgomery Museum of Art & History on Monday, April 20, 2020
Museum Minute 1.3: Traveling Shows in Montgomery County, VA

Montgomery Museum of Art & History curator will discuss the variety of traveling shows that regularly came to Montgomery County during the 19th century and give insight into how exhibits at the museum are selected.

Posted by Montgomery Museum of Art & History on Monday, April 27, 2020

Blacksburg High School Art Show 2020 – digital version

While the Montgomery Museum will be closed at least through the remainder of March, we felt it was important to make the interesting work currently on exhibit in the Blacksburg High School Art Show available. These images are to be enjoyed online – use of them without express permission from the artists is prohibited.

h’ARTS on Main Returns!

The 3rd annual h’ARTS on Main fundraiser is fast approaching and we hope you can join us!

Held at the Great Road on Main,  local artists and artisans, will display and sell their work. Anywhere from jewelry designers, fiber artists, portraitists, and photographers, you will see a lot of what this community values in art and artistry. Plus, there’s so much more!

The beautiful Appalaccia Winery will be there to serve Italian-style vintages, and CrossPointe Catering will also have a booth to serve snacks and drinks.

The silent auction begins Friday at 1, and closes on Saturday at 4 (to benefit the Montgomery Museum of Art and History.) From 4-4:30, we’ll announce the winners. If you can’t be there, DON’T WORRY. You can pick up your items at the Montgomery Museum the following week. The items this year are fantastic! Don’t miss this!

If you like to work in art, we are also hosting FREE hour-long art instructional classes for the Young at h’ART (ages 7 and up) which will be held on Saturday. (Many thanks to the Blacksburg Regional Art Association, for sponsoring these classes!) Claim your spot while you can, as spaces are limited: h’ARTS on Main

You’ll also be interested in listening to our local musicians, who will play throughout the day, Saturday. Find out more.

Can’t wait to see you there!