Press Release

Center for Colorado Women's History Opens Exhibition Exploring the Hidden History of Women’s Undergarments

Exhibition Uses Rarely Displayed Objects to Discuss Mysteries, Myths, and Facts That Have Been Historically Kept Under Covers

DENVER — March 26, 2024 — On March 29, 2024, the Center for Colorado Women’s History will open Rumors of Bloomers, an exhibition that explores women’s experiences as expressed through undergarments. Using never before displayed objects from the History Colorado Collection– such as corsets, bloomers, swimming costumes, petticoats, and Mother Hubbard gowns – Rumors of Bloomers highlights the ways “unmentionables” have given form and shape to bodies, while also expressing identity, autonomy, agency, and protest.

Luke Perkins, Manager of Communications and Public Relations
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Directly informed by scholarship presented at the Women’s History Symposium in November, Rumors of Bloomers tasks visitors with considering how women’s undergarments have liberated or controlled, enhanced or concealed, supported or restricted, while also uncovering mysteries, myths, and facts that have been historically kept under covers.

“There are so many individual threads that make Rumors of Bloomers remarkable, including how it directly builds off of the lively discussion and new scholarship that was explored during last year’s symposium,” said Susan Fries, deputy community museums officer and director of the Center for Colorado Women’s History. “The expertise shared by panelists enriched our understanding of these hidden histories and expanded our comprehension of how undergarments have influenced the lives of Colorado women.”

Rumors of Bloomers goes beyond displaying objects of material culture and is designed to strip fashion trends down to their basics and build an understanding of the physical and social impact of underwear as well as the history of the women that wore and crafted them. 

Some of the prominent subjects explored in the exhibition are:

  • Stories of women who bucked social norms and fashion trends, like Amache Ochinee Prowers, a Cheyenne woman who navigated Victorian culture without adhering to the expectations that she be bound by a corset
  • The interplay between expanded women’s rights and increased freedom of movement as a result of developing social and fashion trends, such as the bloomer outfits pioneered by Amelia Bloomer that increased mobility and prioritized the needs and comfort of the wearer
  • The history and cultural connotations of corsetry, including the works of Beatrice Lewis, a Black dressmaker in Denver who specialized in the creation of corsets
  • The salacious reputation and stigma attached to Mother Hubbard dresses as a result of savvy sex-workers adopting the gown due to its association with sexuality

Rumors of Bloomers is an exciting example of the Center for Colorado Women's History's commitment to display collection items that explore the nuances of womanhood," Fries said. "By displaying these objects that are so closely tied to the experiences of those who identify as women we forge a better understanding of the barriers, opportunities, and decisions that guided their lives."

Visitors to the Center for Colorado Women’s History will be able to view Rumors of Bloomers independently with general admission to the museum or can do a deeper dive through a special docent-led “Bloomers Tour.” Crafted by the educational team at the Center for Colorado Women’s History, this “Bloomers Tour” offers expanded viewing of additional artifacts and context for those looking to better understand the mysteries, myths, and facts about historic undergarments.

Bloomers Tour” will be available on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. starting March 29, 2024. Tickets for these tours are $15 for members and $20 for non-members but capacity is limited so advance purchase is recommended. To reserve a space, purchase a ticket online or in person at the Center for Colorado Women’s History.

Rumors of Bloomers opens at the Center for Colorado Women’s History on March 29, 2024. The Center for Colorado Women’s History is located at 1310 Bannock Street, Denver, CO, and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. General admission for kids 18 and under is free every day.

About Center for Colorado Women’s History
The Center for Colorado Women’s History is the first state museum focused on the past, present and future achievements of Colorado women. The Center focuses on scholarship, research, public programs, narrative, lectures, and exhibitions that expand the understanding and collective memory of the history of women in Colorado. The Center for Colorado Women’s History is a community museum of History Colorado.

About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 144-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado. 

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado