Windham Textile & History Museum to Feature Work of Remarkable Dressmaker

The remarkable life of Sidonia Perlstein, Holocaust survivor and clothing designer, will be on display at the Windham Textile and History Museum from Feb.8-April 28. “Sidonia’s Thread: Crafting a Life from Holocaust to High Fashion” will showcase up to 50 garments created by Perlstein during her years in America. The exhibition will also display information about Perlstein’s personal history through narrative text and family photographs.

Perlstein’s daughter, Hanna Marcus, will make several appearances and give talks on the exhibition and her mother’s remarkable life. Marcus will be at the museum on Feb. 9 from 2-4 p.m.; Feb. 21 from 1-4 p.m.; Feb 24 from 2-4 p.m. (book talk and signing); March 10 from 1-4 p.m.; March 23 from 10-1 p.m.; April 7 from 1-4 p.m.; and April 28 from 2-4 p.m.

She will also speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 13 from 3-4 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre and at the Mansfield Library on March 23 at 2 p.m.

Anya Sokolovskaya, assistant professor of theatre and costume design at Eastern Connecticut State University, collaborated with Marcus to bring the exhibition to life. Sokolovskaya learned of Perlstein’s fascinating life in 2017, at a book talk delivered by Marcus, who is an author and social worker.

“That’s when I learned that Hanna (Marcus) is in possession of a garment collection that was made by Sidonia (Perlstein),” said Sokolovskaya, who is also working with Eastern students on the project.

Garments from the collection will be placed on mannequins to help tell the story of their creator. Other items will illuminate the historical context of the exhibition and explore themes of humanity, including the role of immigration, the effects of Holocaust survival, single parenthood, family loss, and the role of textiles in the development of New England. Audio recordings of stories about Perlstein, narrated by her daughter, will be presented as well.

This project is funded by the Hochberg Committee for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at theTemple Bnai Israel; Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Windham Textile and History Museum; and the CSU-AAUP 2018-19 University Research Grant.

The Windham Textile and History Museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. General admission is $7; students and seniors (62+) pay $5; and free for museum members, children under 5 years old, and Eastern students. For more information, contact themillmuseum@gmail.com or sokolovskayaa@easternct.edu.

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