New exhibit featuring 100 years of swimwear opens at Roanoke Island Festival Park

Published 7:21 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Roanoke Island Festival Park’s latest exhibit, A Day at the Beach: 100 Years of Swimwear, is now open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Ticket Sales Gallery through September 30.

The exhibit features Elaine Henson’s collection of vintage swimwear and advertisements, including bathing suits from the late 1800s through the 1980s. The public is invited to tour this free exhibit and learn more about the history and trends that inspired each piece.

On July 22 at 6 p.m., Henson will give a presentation in Festival Park’s small auditorium titled “A History of Bathing Suits in Vintage Advertising.” Henson will discuss the evolution of swimwear through adverting. The exhibit will be open to tour after the presentation.

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Henson, author of “Carolina Beach: A Postcard History,” began collecting postcards and vintage swimwear to display in her Carolina Beach cottage in 2003. As her passion for preserving her local history grew, so did her collection that now features women’s, men’s and children’s swimwear spanning over a century.

Roanoke Island Festival Park has acknowledged Henson, Museum of the Albemarle, North Carolina Museum of History, Outer Banks History Center, Audrey Putnam and the family of Mrs. Ann Sawyer Butler for their contributions to this exhibit.

For more information about the exhibit, call 252-475-1500 or visit



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