Celebrating a Legacy Woven in Threads: Honoring Pam Vinci's Contribution to the LSU Textile and Costume Museum

Portrait of a woman standing in front of an white plantation-style building.

Pam Vinci’s accomplishments and retirement were celebrated by the Friends of the Textile and Costume Museum and the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising during their spring reception held at the Old Governor’s Mansion. Photo by Annabelle Lang.

The LSU Textile and Costume Museum stands as a testament to the remarkable career of Pam Vinci, a tireless advocate for preserving the cultural heritage of textiles. After a distinguished tenure, Vinci bid farewell to her esteemed career in May, profoundly impacting the museum and its community. As the museum enters a new chapter, the baton has been passed to Michael Mamp, who assumes the role of the museum curator, carrying Vinci’s legacy forward.

Danielle Honeycutt, a doctoral student in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising, speaks fondly of her journey with Vinci. Having worked closely with Vinci on her final exhibit, showcasing the enchanting world of wedding dresses, Honeycutt's admiration for Vinci's meticulous approach and dedication to preserving collections shines through.

“She’s a legend in the community,” Honeycutt states with reverence. “Learning under her guidance has been an incredible stroke of luck. She taught me the invaluable lesson of taking time to care for each piece and giving them the respect they deserve.”

Vinci’s journey in the department began in 1983 when she returned to graduate school after teaching home economics. From humble beginnings as a small collection of faculty membersʼ examples for coursework, the museum steadily grew under Vinci’s watchful eye. Early records bear Vinci’s distinctive handwriting, reflecting her unwavering commitment to documenting and safeguarding the treasures within.

Collaborating with Jenna Kuttruff, professor emeritus and one-time curator, Vinci’s relentless pursuit of grants led to transformative milestones for the museum. The first grant resulted in the conversion of a classroom into the museumʼs first exhibition space, establishing a dedicated storage area and implementing a specialized heating, ventilating and air conditioning system designed for textile preservation.

The impact of Vinci’s work extended far beyond the museum's walls, capturing the attention and support of the public. News of the exhibitions and collections spread rapidly, inspiring the formation of the Friends of the Textile and Costume Museum in 1992. This auxiliary group has played a pivotal role in funding exhibitions, conservation materials and further growth.

Vinci ends her tenure with the museum with one considerable accomplishment, the successful collaboration with Mamp, resulting in a grant from the Board of Regents to replace the museum's HVAC system as well as expand artifact storage capabilities. This accomplishment highlighted the museum's significance as a repository of Baton Rouge's material culture and history, reaffirming the importance of presenting these treasures to the public through thoughtful exhibitions.

As Vinci’s retirement became official in May, the museum transitioned to new leadership under Mamp, who now assumes the role of museum curator and associate professor in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising. Mamp, a respected figure within the museum community, brings his expertise and passion for preserving cultural heritage to guide the museum's future endeavors.

Mamp, speaking about the museum's multi-faceted role, highlights its importance as a platform for teaching, research, and outreach. Beyond the public-facing exhibitions, the museum serves as a space for graduate students to conduct research, disseminate knowledge and lend items to other institutions.

He eloquently captures the essence of textiles in our lives, stating, “From birth to graduation, and from weddings to funerals, textiles mark the most important moments in our lives. Preserving and presenting these embodiments of human experience is a unique opportunity to recreate moments in time.”

Mamp recognizes the profound impact of Vinci's unwavering dedication to documenting women’s history and emphasizes the often-underappreciated nature of this work. As the museum enters this new chapter, Mamp is committed to building upon Vinci's legacy, ensuring the continued preservation and sharing of the museum’s invaluable collections.

Looking to the future, Mamp envisions expanding the museum’s reach through two annual exhibits. The upcoming “Women Fashioning Women” exhibition and the highly anticipated showcase of Geoffrey Beene’s works will captivate visitors with their exploration of art, history and cultural narratives. Additionally, Mamp plans to prioritize digitization efforts, providing more comprehensive access to the museum's remarkable collections.

The retirement of Pam Vinci leaves a profound void within the museum. Yet, her impact will endure as a testament to the power of passion and perseverance in preserving the stories embedded in every thread. The Textile and Costume Museum stands as a living testament to Vinci's unwavering dedication and an enduring reminder of her extraordinary contributions to the cultural heritage of textiles.

Several people mill about a museum wall exhibit containing framed photos.

Pam Vinci points at a display in the previous exhibition gallery space prior to the Textile and Costume Museum opening. Displayed is the 2010 collection “Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look: From Paris to New York to Baton Rouge.” Photo provided by Pam Vinci.

12/1/2023 8:52:28 PM
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