Cossies, swimmers, budgies and boardies

In this program students handle and examine costumes and accessories from the diverse range of swimwear in the museum’s Education Collection. Students investigate the historical, cultural and social contexts inherent in the evolution of swimwear. This hands-on program provides students with direct experience of changing textile technologies, design practices, properties and performance of textiles.

In the workshop, students are introduced to a brief historical outline of costume design and conservation principles. They then develop a Case Study based on their examination of individual swimming costumes.  Students explore and discuss design concepts, fibre, yarns and fabrics, garment construction, aesthetic qualities and labels. The concept of typology is explored with the placement of individual costumes on a timeline.

During a tour of the museum, students examine the evolution of swimwear and design concepts using a touch screen. Photographic panels and specific exhibits of costumes explore the impact of social attitudes, popular culture and sport on the design, fashion and function of swimwear. Advertising material, magazines and accessories contribute to the fashion and marketing experience. Students then match appropriate accessories to costumes from different eras.

Curriculum references (NSW)

NSW Technology Textiles and Design Stage 6
P 1.1, P1.2, P3.1, P3.2, P6.1
H3.1, H3.2, H4.1, H6.1

  • Historical and contemporary development of functional and aesthetic design
  • Influence of culture on swimwear design
  • Properties and performance of textiles
  • Manufacturing methods


Price: $15 per student.

Teachers and supervising adults visit FREE of charge within the ratios specified in Plan Your School Visit. Additional adults will be charged the student rate.

More information

  • A supervisor/student ratio of 1:20 applies.
  • Duration and start/finish times: contingent upon student numbers and will be arranged and explained during booking.
  • Breaks: you're welcome to take recess or lunch at the museum before or after the program, but mid-program breaks must be arranged at time of booking.
  • Entry to exhibitions and vessels: all bookings include FREE entry to museum exhibitions and HMAS Vampire, time permitting. All other vessels require pre-booking. A supervisor/student ratio of 1:15 applies on HMAS Vampire.
  • Location: all programs begin and end at the Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney.