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About Us

The Merchant Tailor Museum was founded in 2022 by Ben Jenkins to fill a niche in the research and public education spaces. As a historical tailor, he began collecting and examining original clothing to aid in the patterning and construction of high-end reproduction garments. As the collection grew he wanted to create a resource that would allow others to research, learn about, and explore these garments. The Museum focuses on the analysis, interpretation, and preservation of men’s garments manufactured between 1845 and 1865. In addition, the Museum aims to highlight the trades and skills utilized in the creation of each garment.


The mission of The Merchant Tailor Museum is the documentation of garments in our collection within the socio-economic context of their creation. The Museum conserves its collection to the highest standards of museum professionalism. Furthermore, the Museum highly prioritizes educational opportunities through radical public accessibility.


Our Mission


Meet The Team



Ben Jenkins

Director - President

Ben is the Founder and Director of The Merchant Tailor Museum. His personal collection and vision has laid the groundwork for our holdings and mission. For the past two decades, he has examined and handled textile artifacts extensively, and has dedicated himself to studying and reverse-engineering the skillset of the mid-nineteenth century tailor. Ben has put these skills to use at museums around the country as an educator, interpreter, and manufacturer of historic reproductions.

Aaron Klass

Director - Curator

Aaron brings 20 years experience in nonprofit and museum work to The Merchant Tailor Museum. As a museum professional, he has worked and contributed to programming at historic sites across the country. Aaron has cultivated a deep knowledge of the cultural and material history of the American West with a special emphasis on the colonial and indigenous history of present-day Colorado. In the past decade, he has developed a particular focus on 19th century textile history. Aaron has helped to shape the focus and mission of the museum, contributing his knowledge to help us develop our interpretive strategies and long term objectives.


Amber Besonen

Director of Media & Marketing

Amber is an experienced museum professional, living historian, and interpreter. While working for historic sites in the past, her goal was to make history accessible, relatable, and palatable to visitors. Now, Amber has a career in libraries, and has added archive/data management to her list of skills and interests. In addition to her contribution to the strategic organization of the museum, Amber is the driving force behind the museum's social media presence.

Eric Smallwood


Eric is a self-taught craftsman and historical tailor, and is a skilled and experienced historic interpreter with an impressive list of state, national, and private historic sites in his background. He has spent his career handling, examining, and reconstructing historical textile artifacts, and his expertise has been vital in helping to curate and interpret the growing collection here at The Merchant Tailor Museum. 

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