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Costume at the National Theatre

Costume Exhibition poster image, with a photo of part of the display

Costume at the National Theatre

Please note: This exhibition ended in March 2020

This exhibition invites you into the world of the National Theatre’s Costume department – unique in the UK for being housed almost entirely on-site – which sources, constructs, repairs, alters, organises, dresses and maintains costumes for over 20 new theatre productions every year. The Costume Hire department circulates costumes – from its stock of 90,000 – to venues all over the country. This team of 46 people possess astonishing skills from producing muddy uniforms and fantastical giant caterpillars, to dressing an actor in a corset in under 60 seconds and eliminating stage blood from garments.

The exhibition features costumes from Follies, Antony & Cleopatra, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,, Dara and War Horse, amongst other NT productions. The exhibition visits each part of the production process; from design to construction, sourcing and alterations, to dressing, repairs and laundering. Costume at the National Theatre has been curated by Aoife Monks and is designed by Tom Paris.


Learn more about costume from Aiofe Monks, curator of Costume at the NT. 

The book Costume at the National Theatre is available to buy online from the NT Bookshop.

Listen to curator Aoife Monks as she describes different elements the exhibition: 

1 - About this guide
2 - Introuduction to the exhibition 
3 - Before the costume
4 - Attention to detail
5 - Managing the stuff
6 - Storytelling on stage
7 - Caring for costume
8 - Costume in the wings
9 - Back in the spotlight
10 - More information and exhibition credits

Costume at the National Theatre Gallery