Instagram filters are not the first tool to be used to distort and manipulate the female form. A new online exhibition by Newcastle’s Discovery Museum charts how women’s bodies have been artificially changed from the Victorian period to the early 2000s. 

The Female Form Through Time, available now to view on Google Arts & Culture , shows how the female silhouette has changed through time, due to changes in fashion and evolving attitudes in society. The clothing items displayed are from Discovery Museum’s extensive costume collection. The exhibition is accompanied by a film on the changing intricacies of Victorian underwear, featuring a boned corset from the 1860s and other items which can be viewed here.

The film shows Helen Vasey, assistant keeper of history, behind the scenes in the Discovery Museum’s costume stores as she shares the complexities and layers of various fabrics and underwear that Victorian women would have worn. From Victorian crinolines and the liberations of post-World War One through to the power dressing of the 1980s and the shell suits of the 1990s, The Female Form Through Time offers a fascinating snapshot of women’s fashion.  

All images courtesy of Discovery Museum, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. 


More of the Discovery Museum can be explored online at Google Arts & Culture, with a Virtual Tour and the exhibition Colourful Discoveries, delving into the collections through a kaleidoscopic lens of colour.  

The Discovery Museum protects and preserves 1.1 million items in its collection. Now more than ever, art, culture and heritage sits firmly at the heart of the North East. You can help by donating today. Discovery Museum will reopen at stage three of the Government’s roadmap (from May 17, 2021) and will confirm opening dates and details nearer the time.