Special Exhibits - Winter

Thrift Style

October 21, 2023 - April 30, 2024

Thrift Style explores the reuse of feed sacks to make clothing and other household objects and illuminates how the “upcycling” of these bags mutually benefited 20th-century consumers and businesses. With 41 works from patterns to garments, it serves as an example of past ingenuity that can inform today’s efforts towards sustainability.

The exhibition, organized by the Historic Costume and Textile Museum and the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, both at Kansas State University, provides a nostalgic view into American ingenuity, sensibility, and optimism during a particularly challenging time of economic hardship and war—the period of the Great Depression and World War II. The reuse of feed, flour, and sugar sacks was a cost-saving and resource-saving approach employed by homemakers to make new items to meet their families’ needs.

Museum organizers say this exhibit offers visitors a unique connection to Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover.

“The Hoovers led massive food relief efforts in Belgium and northern France during World War I, feeding more than 9-million people per day,” said Marcus Eckhardt, curator at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. “The emptied flour sacks used during these times were transformed into clothing and everyday items, with later generations of upcycling done less out of necessity, but for the purpose of saving materials to create new. Thrift Style showcases those same practices, and we are eager to present this new temporary exhibit to our visitors.”

The exhibit will run from October 21 until April 30, 2024. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., located at 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch, Iowa, 52358.