Objektet och Museet: Interview with Justin Squizzero

In May, Graphite Interdisciplinary Journal of the Arts released their third annual issue, focused on the theme of The Archival. Among all the strong expository and art works, there are many questions surrounding dress, textiles, and the archive, including the Post Katrina Self Portraits of Tameka Norris and the photography of Takming Chuang. Suleiman Hodali writes about images of Palestinians at protest sites and self/representation in a digital age.

Also in this issue is an interview I did with my friend and colleague Justin Squizzero, who is the Director of Historical Interpretation at Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, about the use of clothing in his museum. We talked about his work as the farm’s one-man wardrobe department and how a living history program can act as a living archive, preserving sewing and weaving techniques, documenting physical experiences of clothing, and giving visitors a rare glimpse of historic clothing in use.

A snippet from the interview:

Arianna Funk: What is most valuable to you about interactions visitors have with interpreters wearing this clothing you’ve made?

Justin Squizzero: I personally enjoy introducing people to an entirely different way of thinking about clothes than they’re used to. Most of our visitors have never even heard of bespoke clothing, let alone owned any. Getting people’s minds around the amount of time and energy that was put into keeping people clothed in the past is something that I enjoy. The idea that even ordinary clothes were valuable to people is an important difference between a 1790s mindset and a modern one, and if the clothing we’re showing isn’t accurate, we can’t convey such aspects of eighteenth-century life.


Read it online: Graphite Issue 3. “The Archival” issue is full of meditations on that theme so important to our relationships with museums, objects, art, and ourselves. If you’d like to start your own archive and experience the materiality of reading, visit the HAMMER Museum at UCLA for current and back issues.

Please share your comments on the interview or the living archive below!


Photo 1: Milking the cows in reproduction 1790s clothing made by Justin. At Coggeshall Farm Museum, 2011. Photo: Steven Squizzero.

Photo 2: Justin in clothing he produced himself, and a hat from an 18th-century clothing specialist. At Coggeshall Farm Museum, 2011. Photo: Dan Connolly.

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