World of Feathers - Credits: Alejandro Aquirre
24 September 2017

World of Feathers

A World of Feathers in the Afrika Museum.

This exhibition takes you to the world of birds and feathers, explaining how and why we humans like to use them to make an impression. 


Ended | This exhibition was on display until 24 September 2017 in the Afrika Museum. 

Feathers are the most colourful things in the natural world. They are delicate and beautiful to behold, and the way some birds display them is simply fascinating.

Birds and their feathers have inspired people all over the world to create the most beautiful objects. Anyone who wears feathers is sure to make an impression, whether they be Papuans with their extravagant headdresses or models wearing the latest haute couture featuring feathers. But feathers not only make an impression, they also reflect who we are and what we stand for. They can be a reward for our deeds, or can give us strength. 

Spectacular collection

All over the world, feathers are worn as ornamentation, ranging trom entire feather costumes to feather jewellery and accessories. Admire and enjoy our large collection, which includes unique items trom Suriname, Brazil, Congo, North America and Hawaii.
In this exhibition the spectacular feather collection is alternated with haute couture of contemporary fashion designers, birds of all kinds and sizes, numerous stories and interesting facts.

Feathers do not only make an impression, they also reflect who we are and what we stand for.

Feathers in haute couture, past and present

Fashion designers have used feathers in their work since the late 19th century. The feather designs of some, like Thierry Mugler and Alexander McOueen, have become iconic.

In addition to the contribution of the fashion designers mentioned above, the next generation of designers at the Fashion study programme of ArtEZ in Arnhem gave their interpretation on the theme feathers. We asked them not to use real feathers but to imitate feathers using different shapes, materials and textures. This has resulted in a new perspective on feathers in fashion. A selection of the designs of these students can be seen in the exhibition. Britt Liberg has designed the ornament dress below specially for the exhibition.

Britt Liberg
Photo: Nienke Weerda

Feathers for proven courage

Of course, in the exhibition you can also see a large part of feathers in a different context. Like the symbolic use of feathers. The best known examples are the headdresses by the native Plains from America. Chiefs carried headdresses with eagle feathers and feathers of other birds of prey as an expression of proven courage.

Blackfoot - Montana - Holger Leue
Blackfoot - Montana - Holger Leue