ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  exhibitions

The Textile-Museum St.Gallen
Vadianstrasse 2
CH-9000 St.Gallen
tel: ++41 71 222 17 44
fax: ++41 71 223 42 39

opening hours:
mo - sa: 10-12, 14-17
sunday: 10-17,
first wed. every month: 10-17

new opening hours
from May first onwards:
daily 10 am until 5 pm

entrance fees:
CHF 7.- per person
CHF 5.- in groups of 10 persons, reduced
CHF 3.- students with identity card

The Museum in display windows -
Window displays in the Museum

Textilmuseum St.Gallen

22 August until 30 December 2007


  The St.Gallen Textile Museum exhibits textile window displays to outline the cultural history of display windows as they developed from 1900 to the present day.

Displays windows are meant to make people buy things. They show off the seductive qualities of the products displayed in the window. Being the result of a culture, they reflect the spirit of their times.

Up to the 19th century, goods were sold in workshops, on markets or at trade fairs. The industrial revolution gave rise to specialised shops with goods displayed in their windows. After the second half of the 19th century, it was the world exhibitions that provided important impulses for product ranges to be displayed. At the 1896 National Exhibition in Geneva, the St.Gallen embroidery firm Ed. Sturzenegger literally put its products on a stage.

About 1910, display windows became larger, thus becoming more attractive. Dust and sunlight spoil the goods on display in a brief period of time, which means that textile displays have to be changed frequently. From the 1920s, window displays were intended to lure customers into the shops to buy fashion goods and accessories. Passers-by saw themselves mirrored in the window panes as the future owners of seductive fabrics and textile treasures.
  It was of necessity that the shop windows of the 1940s displayed a measure of austerity. Underwear and clothes were presented in sober and utilitarian terms. After the Second World War, entire display window complexes and colourful neon lights revived the streetscapes. Dreams appeared to be close to fulfilment. Scarves, clothes or shoes were arranged around a central prop. In the 1960s, the display window became the museum of the street. Window-dressers wanted to cultivate people's taste and increase profits. Passers-by were still delighted by the fantastic fabrics on display even after opening hours. From 1970 onwards, the borderline between sales space and display window become blurred. In order to provide customers with the feeling of an event, window displays were increasingly integrated into the functional business area. Elements from history, art or nature helped to create an attraction: Poseidon advertised perfectly fitting shirts.

At the end of the 20th century, display windows were no longer limited to town centres and shopping malls. Rather, they were also used by cultural institutions such as museums and theatres, by airports and private enterprises, to establish a more immediate contact with the general public.

Ursula Karbacher, lic. phil. I


home content Last revised 16 August 2007