Upcoming Exhibition Features New Additions to The Textile Museum's Trove of Treasures

Share Article

Outstanding textiles added to The Textile Museum's collection over the last five years will be on view in "Recent Acquisitions" from March 6, 2009 through January 3, 2010. The 19 diverse objects featured in the exhibition, including clothing, bags, rugs and furnishing fabrics drawn from several continents, were selected by Textile Museum Director Daniel Walker to represent the breadth of the museum's collection, which spans centuries and cultures. In showcasing new additions to the museum's holdings, "Recent Acquisitions" celebrates The Textile Museum's active role as a leader in the collection and appreciation of the textile arts.

Outstanding textiles added to The Textile Museum's collection over the last five years will be on view in "Recent Acquisitions" from March 6, 2009 through January 3, 2010. The 19 diverse objects featured in the exhibition, including clothing, bags, rugs and furnishing fabrics drawn from several continents, were selected by Textile Museum Director Daniel Walker to represent the breadth of the museum's collection, which spans centuries and cultures. In showcasing new additions to the museum's holdings, "Recent Acquisitions" celebrates The Textile Museum's active role as a leader in the collection and appreciation of the textile arts.

"This exhibition demonstrates that The Textile Museum is a vital institution, one that continues to grow and evolve each year," said Walker. "Through donations and special purchases, our world-renowned collection is constantly enriched."

Exploring connections in art, culture and history, The Textile Museum is a unique institution with an acclaimed collection of nearly 18,000 handmade textiles from around the world. This collection is fundamental to the museum's mission of expanding public knowledge and appreciation of the artistic merits and cultural importance of the world's textiles. Some of the objects in "Recent Acquisitions," like a 19th-century Chinese robe, were chosen for their rich colors and patterning, while others were selected because of their unique cultural importance.

The Textile Museum was established in 1925 by textile collector and connoisseur George Hewitt Myers with a collection of 275 rugs and 60 related textiles. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, the museum has expanded its collection to the rich compilation of nearly 18,000 textiles in its holdings today. In accordance with the parameters first set forth by its founder, the museum has focused its efforts on collecting handmade textiles from indigenous cultures in Central and South America, the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, China, and beyond.

Each year the museum's curators review objects for donation or purchase to determine their suitability for the collection based on the objects' cultural origins, quality, state of preservation, place in the standing collection, provenance or history and legal history, and relevance for research, publication and exhibition. The objects the curators choose to recommend are presented to a staff committee and then, if approved, to the museum's Board of Trustees for a final decision.

"Recent Acquisitions" presents a special opportunity to see new additions to the collection - an infrequent occurrence because of the depth of the museum's holdings and the museum's stringent collections care and management policies. The Textile Museum's conservation standards require that each textile presented in an exhibition be returned to dark storage for five years afterwards so that it will be preserved for future generations of museum visitors. That makes each appearance of a textile an uncommon opportunity to share in its history.

Textiles in the Exhibition
The objects presented in "Recent Acquisitions" boast origins in such diverse regions as Peru, Indonesia, India, Cameroon, Bhutan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey and France. Most of the pieces are garments, but the exhibition also includes hangings or panels, a saddlebag and other items.

One of the stand-out pieces in the exhibition is a Chinese robe made of kesi (tapestry-woven silk) which would have been worn by an upper-class woman of Manchu ethnicity during the 19th century, mainly for informal occasions in the autumn. China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911), was created when the Manchus assumed power. Even as they rose to dynastic rule, the Manchus retained their native styles of dress, including full length robes such as the one newly accepted into the Museum's collection. Its pattern of scattered flowers and symbols of long life is closely associated with the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908). The first Manchu robe to be added to The Textile Museum's collection, this elegant piece belonged to Jane Ickes, wife of Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Central Asian ikats, particularly the fabrics made in Uzbekistan, have some of the most graphically striking patterns produced in any culture. Binding and dyeing the bundled warps -- and sometimes also the wefts -- before weaving is initiated results in patterns with characteristic softly defined edges. The practice of calendaring, or applying a shiny and highly polished finish of egg white or special glue, gives fabrics an even more brilliant, reflective sheen. The splendid munisak, a woman's robe from Uzbekistan on view in "Recent Acquisitions," was created using both ikat and calendaring. The robe features brilliantly colored forms set against a white background, creating a sharp contrast. Tailored with a close-fitting, pinched waist and a flared skirt, the robe is lined with a Russian printed cotton fabric decorated with paisleys, stripes and roses. The Textile Museum received this robe as part of a magnificent group of Central Asian ikats given by collector Murad Megalli in 2005. This collection will be the subject of a major exhibition at The Textile Museum in the fall of 2010.

Ikat dyeing was practiced in many other cultures around the world, including traditional cultures in South America. A third notable item which will be on view in "Recent Acquisitions" is an Ecuadorian shawl consisting of one loom panel with an indigo-dyed ikat design with little dogs on a mottled background and a horizontal border of birds on each end. The extended white warp fringe of the shawl has been fashioned in macramé (ornamental knot work) to form a design of floral bouquets separated by birds and dogs, framed by a border of geese above and below. The shawl was collected in Cuenca, in the highlands, in the early 1970s and was probably relatively new then. The style is thought to be traceable to Peruvian shawls seen around 1900 in Loja, a city to the south.

These and the other diverse objects offered for the public's enjoyment and learning in "Recent Acquisitions" form a small celebration of the diversity and high quality of The Textile Museum's holdings, as well as the taste, knowledge and generosity of the museum's donors.

About The Textile Museum
Established in 1925 by George Hewitt Myers, The Textile Museum is an international center for the exhibition, study, collection and preservation of the textile arts. The Museum explores the role that textiles play in the daily and ceremonial life of individuals the world over. Special attention is given to textiles of the Near East, Asia, Africa and the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The museum also presents exhibitions of historical and contemporary quilts, and fiber art. With a collection of more than 18,000 textiles and rugs and an unparalleled library, The Textile Museum is a unique and valuable resource for people locally, nationally and internationally.

The Textile Museum is located at 2320 S Street, NW in Washington, D.C. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm. PLEASE NOTE: Effective April 2009, the museum will be closed to the public on Mondays. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.00 for non-members. For further information, call 202-667-0441 or visit http://www.textilemuseum.org.

Media Contact: Cyndi Bohlin, Communications and Marketing Manager, 202-667-0441, ext. 78 or cbohlin (at) textilemuseum.org.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Cyndi Bohlin
Visit website