HAIRdentity Exhibit Explores Meaning of Hairstyles

Fashion Trends and Personal Choices

Explore the history of hair – how we wore it and what it means from 1840 to 1980 in Historic Newton’s new exhibit, “HAIRdentity.” The exhibit opens February 13 at the Jackson Homestead and Museum, and continues through 2020.

Using artifacts and photos from Historic Newton’s collection, the items on display show how hairstyles reflect fashion trends as well as personal choices and beliefs. Elaborate styles tend to display wealth and leisure time for grooming; other styles protest social norms.

The objects illustrate not only the evolution of hairstyles, but the evolution of hair care and related accoutrements. Trace the progression of hair curlers from hearth-warmed metal rods to the more efficient (and comfortable) plastic rollers of the 20th century. Also find accessories including jeweled hairpins, mustache curlers, and Afro picks. A novelty is the mustache cup, a teacup designed to shield men's mustaches from getting wet (and melting the mustache wax) while men were drinking. And, yes, there is actual hair in the exhibit!

“While this exhibition is truly fun it also tackles serious issues of race, gender and societal pressures. Hair is so very personal yet also utterly visible; everyone’s style sends a message,” said Historic Newton’s Director and exhibit co-curator, Lisa Dady.

Visitors are invited to consider their own choices about hairstyles throughout the years – when did they wear a particular style, and why did they wear it?

“HAIRdentity” is presented in partnership with Webster Bank and also supported by a Commonwealth of Massachusetts grant thanks to Senator Cynthia Creem.

Museum Hours:

“HAIRdentity” is open from February 13 through December 31, 2020 at the Jackson Homestead and Museum, 527 Washington Street, Newton, 617-796-1450. The museum is open Wednesday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

About Webster Bank:

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