The Kent State Museum contains important collections of fashion and decorative arts. Its eight galleries feature changing exhibitions of work by many of the world's great artists and designers. Closely linked to the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University, the Museum provides students with first-hand experience with historic and contemporary fashions, as well as costumes representing many of the world's cultures. An extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts combine to give context to the study of design.
The Museum serves both the University and the community through exhibitions, public programs, and research appointments in the collections.
Opened to the public in October 1985, the Kent State University Museum was founded with an initial contribution from New York dress manufacturers Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers. Their gift included 4,000 costumes and accessories, nearly 1,000 pieces of decorative art and a 5,000-volume reference library. In the 1960s, Shannon Rodgers began collecting what is now considered one of the finest period costume collections in the United States, today totaling more than 40,000 pieces. The Tarter/Miller collection of some 10,000 pieces of glass formed the second major gift to the Museum. Together with the other decorative arts collected by Rodgers and Silverman, the Museum holds one of the most comprehensive teaching collections of fashionable design from the 18th century to the present.