Starting in the 19th century, many in Sweden worried about the ravages of industrialization, urbanization, and emigration on traditional ways of life. Norway was gripped in a struggle for national independence. Indigenous Sámi communities—artificially divided by national borders and long resisting colonial control—rose up in protests that sparked cultural renewal and demanded political recognition. Throughout, people have put on special clothing to communicate powerful messages of unity and opposition, to fight for self-determination, and to make purposeful connections with the past. The creative reworking of tradition continues today with dress revivals, reconstructions, and inventions.
Getting dressed is a creative act, an expression of the self within a web of social and historical connections. Getting dressed can also be an artistic performance meant to persuade others. In this exhibition, you will meet diverse individuals who make and wear folkdräkt, bunad, and gákti today. By dressing with purpose, they intentionally seek a sense of belonging, articulate personal values, and combine the best of the past with the present in order to fashion better futures.