When Leila Cohoon tells people she owns a hair museum, they envision old curling irons, hair dyers, and other such tools. However, this is not the case.
There are 159 wreaths and over 2,000 pieces of jewelry containing, or made of, human hair dating before 1900. For $3.00, the public in invited to look at these locks at Leila's Hair Museum. , Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
According to Cohoon, "It could possibly be the only hair museum in the United States, maybe the world."
The museum was featured in the April 23rd,1995, issue of People magazine. She received a phone call from actress/comedian Phyllis Diller, and the museum now boasts a hair wreath acquired from Ms. Diller. The Museum has also been featured in the following publications and television stations:
Cohoon began collecting the hair as a hobby when she started the Independence College of Cosmetology 37 years ago. With the completion of their new building, she finally had the space to open the museum.
The wreaths, many hanging in their original frames, were considered pieces of art. Families put their hair on the wreath in a horseshoe shape so that more could be added as the family grew. Cohoon has a couple of the hair wreaths from two sisters whose heads were shaved when they entered a convent. She has a homemade family history book dating from 1725 to 1900 that contains samples of the family member's hair, complete with calling cards.
The museum contains watch fobs, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, chains, brooches, hat pins, postcards, pictures and many other interesting items. Cohoon enjoys wearing the jewelry and says she continues to increase her collection through antique dealers, garage sales, auctions and people contacting her when they have heard of the museum through the media.
"By taking apart a wreath and putting it back together, I have been able to figure out the steps, and I am now making a wreath using my grandchildren's' hair; however, since learning how to do the craft, I find that I enjoy locating and preserving the old pieces for history much more than making new ones.
"We still have the habit today of saving hair: when Baby gets that first haircut, Mother saves the hair. We don't know why; we just put it in a book and that's the end of it...but at least we have the habit."
Leila's Hair Museum is now the national headquarters for the Victorian Hairwork Society. This location is where the committee meets, photo's and press releases are archived our members hair wreath is displayed. Information about the society and the museum is available by contacting:
Shown on the right is Leila with a huge hair flower shadowbox. She has created a calendar which includes many photo's of the hairwork from this display. There is also a video available with many hair flower designs. So if you need hair flower images, contact Leila. firstname.lastname@example.org