Kate Debono

Kate Debono

Research Student

Personal profile

Research interests

Kate is a current Phd Candidate funded by Techné.

The working title for her research is: Curatorial collecting practices and the collection of twentieth century clothing, 1970-onwards, with a case study of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, UK.

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery has been identified as having one of the largest collections of dress and fashion within the UK.[1] While its collecting policies and practices have been identified as ‘atypical’[2], the collection has often been recognised as ‘a gem’[3] with a particularly strong collection of shop bought and home-made twentieth century clothing.[4] Using the ‘atypical’ policies and practices of Worthing Museum as a case study to explore curatorial collecting practices surrounding the acquisition and documentation of twentieth century fashion, from 1970 onwards, this research aims to build a deeper understanding of museum collecting of fashion.

The main research questions are:

  • What can an examination of holdings of twentieth-century clothing within the collection at Worthing Museum, along with an assessment of collecting policies and practices, reveal about fashion collecting from 1970 onwards in UK museums? 
  • How can analysis of past collecting practices inform the future development of museum collecting of fashion?

These questions will help to address critiques of curatorial practices in two ways. Firstly, those that suggest that fashion collecting, and curatorial practices of the past, are not meeting the demands of present researchers. Secondly that curatorial practices of documentation, classification and terminology may not be adequate for representing all sectors of contemporary society.[5] These issues are relevant to publicly funded museums today as they review and assess their holdings, justify their existence and navigate through a period of change and limited resources.

Current objectives of the research:

  1. Collect detailed information about the twentieth century collecting practice in museum collections of fashion, with a particular case study on Worthing Museum.
  2. Capture individual experiences of curatorial practices collecting fashion, with a particular case study on Worthing Museum. 
  3. Contextualise individual curatorial practices within a wider museums context and produce an assessment of the impact of curatorial choices on collections.


Kate was awarded a Techné work placement as a Curatorial Assistant with the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection in February 2020, which has been put on hold due to covid-19.

Kate also teaches Critical studies on the BA (Hons) Fashion and Business, BA(Hons) Textiles and Business and BA(Hons) Fashion Communication and Business courses and is a Casual Museum Learning Assistant at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. She is a member the Universities Centre for Design History, the Objects Unwrapped research group and the Association of Dress Historians (DATS) and Worthing Museum and Art Gallery Education Planning Group.

[1] Ann Wise, Hidden Treasures: Worthing Musuem and Art GalleryEmbroidery2004. 34-35. Print, Worthing Theatres and Musuem, "Costume Collection Worthing Theatres and Musuem," 31/8/2020.

[2] Charlotte Nicklas and Annebella Pollen, Techne Collaborative Doctoral Award Expression of Interest Form. University of Brighton and Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. University of Brighton, 2018. 3. Print.

[3]  Lou Taylor et al., Dress Collections in Musuems and Other Instituitions in the South, South East and South West of England. . Second ed. Brighton: University of Brighton, 2018. Print.

Lou. Taylor, Establishing Dress History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004) 

[4] Musuem, "Costume Collection Worthing Theatres and Musuem."

Charlotte Nicklas and Annebella Pollen, Collecting Everyday Fashion: Worthing Museum’s Twentieth-Century Costume Collections. Collaborative Doctoral Award Advertisement. University of Brighton, 2018. Print.

[5] Cheryl Buckley and Hazel Clark, Fashion and Everyday Life: London and New York (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) , Cheryl Buckley and Hazel Clark, "1," In Search of the Everyday: Museums, Collections, and Representations of Fashion in London and New York, Heike Jenss Bloomsbury, 2016) , Catriona Fisk, "Looking for Maternity: Dress Collections and Embodied Knowledge," Fashion Theory 23.3 (2019), Cicely Proctor, "Collecting Clothes Worn by Trans People and the Curatorial Ramifications," Fashion Theory 22.4-5 (2018):

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Museums and Galleries: History of Textiles and Dress

Sept 2005Jun 2007

Award Date: 29 Jun 2007

Bachelor, Theatre Design: Costume Design, Wimbledon School of Art (University of the Arts London)

Sept 1997Jun 2000

Award Date: 30 Jun 2000


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