Hart & Hand – an exhibition at Benga House

A new exhibition of ladies vintage fashion is opening on Friday night:

From exquisite party frocks to warm woollen coats and even the odd fancy dress costume, this is a rare opportunity to view original garments hand-made by Mrs Dorothy Hart of Benga House. Mrs Hart, who together with her husband Dr Ian Hart designed and built Benga House, was an accomplished seamstress.

The original dresses and clothes were all handmade by Mrs Hart between the 1940s and the 1970s.

What: Hart & Hand – Stitching together the private and public lives of Mrs D. Hart.
When: 13 January – 10 March, Wed to Fri, 10am to 4pm and Sun 12pm to 4pm.
Where: Benga House, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens 66 McCrae Street, Dandenong 3175. Phone phone 9793 4511.
Cost: Gold coin donation

Further information is available at the Heritage Hill website. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of related talks, including two by Patricia Begg and one by me. I’ll post about those soon.

I had the opportunity to view some of the gowns, to help with dating and I can report that they are very good examples of a highly skilled seamstress – the standard of Mrs Hart’s work would nowadays qualify as couture. In particular I was impressed by her structured 1950s ballgowns (an early example of which can be viewed above). The clothes have been well preserved by the museum and this is the first time they have been displayed for the public.


  1. They’re beautiful Louise: I have a particular fondness for the enthusiastic home sewer – despite her lack of professional experience, her clothes are made with a personal attention to detail and love that commercial dresses just don’t have.

    Why not pop over for a visit? The weather is lovely here at the moment!

  2. You are always so in-tune with Melbourne’s vintage offerings Louise – thanks for sharing this exhibition’s details! It sounds fab and I’m now going to make some time next week so check it out. Thanks once again!

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