The Textile Museum

The Textile Museum
Founded in 1925 by textile collector George Hewitt Myers, The Textile Museum is the oldest museum in the Western Hemisphere devoted exclusively to handmade textile arts.

The museum presents four to six diverse exhibitions each year, ranging from Oriental carpets to contemporary fiber art, introducing visitors to the diversity and richness of textile arts.

The museum features a hands-on Activity Gallery where visitors can learn more about how textiles are made and the cultures that produce them. The museum receives 25,000 to 30,000 visitors a year.

Located in the historic Kalorama district of Washington, DC, The Textile Museum is housed in two beautiful buildings. One of the buildings, originally home to the Museum’s founder, was designed by John Russell Pope, architect of the National Gallery of Art and the Jefferson Memorial. The Museum also features lovely gardens available to the public and a Museum Shop stocked with unique jewelry, handmade textiles, books and other objects from around the world.

The following is a list of planned exhibitions for the coming year. If you are planning a visit to The Textile Museum, please confirm the exhibitions and dates before your trip!

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* A Garden of Shawls: The Buta and Its Seeds
Thru March 6, 2005

The natural grace of the gardens of Mughal India was reflected in the patterns of trees, vines and flowers that decorated textiles of the period. Kashmir shawls express this taste for fluid softness, bright color and rhythmic design. The most fertile design found in them is the flame-shaped leaf, tree, or cluster with a bent tip, known as the buta. A Garden of Shawls: The Buta and Its Seeds includes spectacular variations of the buta in both Asian and Western shawls, and explores the landscape of its design in history.

* Beyond the Bag: Textiles as Containers
January 28, 2005 – June 5, 2005

While containers perform the practical functions of holding, carrying and covering everyday items, they are also objects of creativity made with a designing and purposeful eye. Beyond the Bag celebrates the use of textiles as utilitarian containers and gives visitors an opportunity to investigate the many ways various cultures have exploited the unique properties of textile containers to suit their needs. Through the objects on view, visitors can gain insight into the lifestyles of different cultures and their various storage and transportation needs. Included in the exhibition are objects from both Eastern and Western Hemispheres drawn from the Museum’s collections.

* Textiles for This World and Beyond: Treasures from Insular Southeast Asia
April 1, 2005 – September 18, 2005

Long before Islam and Christianity were established in the islands of Southeast Asia, the people who settled the area had developed a philosophy for existence in a highly unpredictable world. Textiles play an important part in many of the beliefs and customs which are followed to this day. Textiles for This World and Beyond explores the role that textiles in Indonesia and Malaysia play in daily society, and how textiles are used in ceremonies to maintain harmonious relationships with the deceased or the gods. This will be the first exhibition of a group of 19th- to early 20th-century Southeast Asian textiles acquired by The Textile Museum in the last 25 years. Many of the approximately 60 objects have never been exhibited at The Textile Museum or elsewhere in the United States. The majority of these textiles were acquired by the Museum in 2000 with a grant from The Christensen Fund in Palo Alto, California. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Mattiebelle Gittinger, The Textile Museum’s Research Associate for Southeast Asian Textiles. A leading scholar in the field of Southeast Asian textiles and culture, Dr. Gittinger has curated numerous exhibitions and published extensively. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.

* Huari Ceremonial Textiles (WORKING TITLE)
July 1, 2005 – January 8, 2006

Huari is the modern name of a city site in the central highlands of Peru that conquered most of the highlands and coast of what is now Peru between about AD 650 and 850. The iconography associated with the Huari empire appears to be religious in nature and is found most prominently on ceramics and fine tapestry woven textiles. Since preservation is poor in the highlands due to rainfall, most Huari style textiles have been found on the desert coast. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a large tapestry panel that was donated to The Textile Museum in 2002. It came to the Museum as a group of fragments that were reassembled and prepared for exhibition by the Museum's conservation department. Unlike most other known Huari style tapestry textiles, it is clearly not a garment, and its iconography also suggests a prominent ceremonial function. Also included in the exhibition are examples of Huari style garments and related ceremonial textiles. The exhibition will also explore what the iconography tells us about Huari religion and ceremony, and the development of the empire over time.

* Silk & Leather: Splendid Attire of 19th-Century Central Asia
An exhibition in honor of Caroline McCoy-Jones
September 2, 2005 - February 26, 2006

Silk & Leather: Splendid Attire of 19th -Century Central Asia features different types of garments and accessories worn by the ruling class and urban and nomadic elites of the region which encompasses present day Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and part of Kazakhstan. The exhibition includes six outstanding coats as well as accessories such as hats, boots, belts, pig tail covers, children's clothing, purses, pouches and veils. The more than 20 objects featured in the exhibition are drawn from The Textile Museum's holdings as well private collections in the United States and England. Silk and leather have lengthy, intertwined histories as materials for human dress in Central Asia. Silk was first and most prolifically produced in China, where for centuries its source and production methods were closely guarded secrets until they were carried to Central Asia and beyond. Leather, felt and fur as well as a distinctive clothing style that included trousers, made life easier for the horse-riding nomadic pastoralists of the vast, sparsely populated Eurasian steppe bordering on China and Central Asia. The nomads' mobile economy and potent cavalry enabled them to extort vast quantities of coveted luxury goods from the Chinese - first and foremost silk - which they both consumed and sold. The copious production and multifaceted use of silk, along with the continued use of leather, were all part of the spectacular blossoming of the textile and related arts during the 19th century in West Central Asia.

* Rozome Masters
October 14, 2005 – February 12, 2006

Though rooted in ancient Japanese culture, rozome, a textile patterning method similar to batik, has received little recognition outside of Japan. Rozome Masters is the first in-depth exhibition of rozome in the United States. The exhibition features the work of 15 contemporary Japanese artists and will include folding screens, scrolls, panels and kimonos. Rozome experienced a revival after World War II, when mid-20th century artists were interested in the technique as a vehicle for color, movement, and unique image making on cloth in contrast to the repeat patterning of traditional Japanese textiles. Rozome Masters celebrates the artistic mastery of these artists, known as painters of the fiber world.

You Should Also Read:
The Textile Museum's Website
Preserving Your Heirloom Textiles
National Trust for Historic Preservation

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