The museum was inaugurated in 1977 following the exhibition 'The Civil Costume in Portugal', curated by Natália Correia Guedes, its first director. The collection is housed in the Angeja-Palmela Palace located in the Monteiro-Mor Botanic Park. The palace, including the botanical garden, was purchased by the State in 1975 to install the museum, with the aim of establishing a place for research, conservation and public exhibition of costumes and textiles. The collection includes historical costumes, garments and accessories, dating from the 18th century to the present day.
In addition to the pieces of urban European influence, mainly French and English, the Museum also features pieces of Portuguese and foreign regional costume, vestments and toys. The permanent exhibition, 'Costume in Portugal from the 18th century to the Present Day', presents objects that trace a chronological evolution of the different styles and trends of dress worn by the Portuguese nobility and bourgeoisie.