Mannequin Wigs

June 24, 2020

Right up my Alley!

If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE to dress up, and wigs are an essential part of that process. I was ecstatic to be asked to MAKE wigs for a few of the exhibits at the Kent State University Museum when I was working there (2013-2017). That was my first time getting to create something that would be on an exhibit floor.

The first exhibit was called Flapper Style and I made about 20 wigs to go with the 1920s dresses. I researched common hairstyles on fashion plates from the time period and got to work. I had a great time getting creative with headbands, feathers, and bobs!

I had never done anything like this before and there aren't really any instructions for it, so I just dove in and learned while doing. We used FosShape skull caps for the mannequins, unrolled raffeta paper for the hair, and hot glue to hold it all together. The biggest trick to tackle was getting the 'grain' of the hair to lay the right way and hide the edges of the paper strips.

Magical Designs for Mozart's Magic Flute

The next exhibit was about costumes from the Magic Flute opera. We got costumes from around the world to display, and they needed hair AND makeup to complete the ~lewk~. I worked off of pictures of the production to create wigs and masks for the mannequins to portray the correct cosmetics. This show went on exhibit at the New York Public Library as well.

The 1980s: An Age of Excess

The last exhibit I made wigs for was a 1980s showcase. Thankfully I didn't have to use several cans of AquaNet because I was already working with stiff hair!

On the Road

My wig pieces were part of installations in other places as exhibits traveled and things were borrowed by other institutions. The Cleveland Museum of Art used them in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s since they got installation and collection loans from KSUM.

I was also contracted to make 2 1830s wigs for the Hillwood Estate down in Washington DC.


Museum Professional. Traveler. Cat lover.

Chloe Wingard