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Textile Museum: The fabric of our lives

Textiles are one of those types of art forms that are so appreciated in the home, but perhaps not always recognized as true art. That’s because they’re applied to so much of our daily lives – in clothes, on furniture, as rugs, curtains, tablecloths – that the average individual doesn’t realize that an artist designed and created each of those items. In comes the Textile Museum, where curators, docents and volunteers bring their love and devotion to the art of textile to the public.

The museum was founded in 1925 by George Hewitt Myers with its collection of 275 rugs and 60 textiles. He continued collecting for his museum until his death in 1957. The collection draws from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as local and North American textiles. The museum is in two beautiful historic houses built in 1913, complete with garden, which are also available for weddings and receptions.

The Textile museum has permanent and visiting exhibitions, from “Recycling Textiles” showing the re-use of textiles across the world and ages, to “Women Design Mid-Century Britain” showing the contemporary, bold motifs used in fabrics and turned into fashionable icons in clothing. There’s a popular activity room, the “Textile Learning Center”, which allows visitors of all ages to touch and feel various textiles and learn about the process of making them. Visitors can witness the different stages of processing silk (from cocoon to thread), how color is created, and learn some terminology as well.

There are even online exhibitions, showing photographs and discussions on various topics, including the artistry of puzzle-piecing in Persian carpet-making and “Flowers of Silk and Gold” – featuring four centuries of Ottoman embroidery.

There are also many events, including lectures, tours, films, and hands-on educational series. Two Saturdays a month is “Rug & Textile appreciation mornings” where a guest speaker shares his or her textiles from a collection and invites visitors to share their own as well. Every first Wednesday of the month, visitors are welcome to ask curators and experts about their own textiles and how to care, display and store them.

HelloMetro Tip: For a more elegant evening, there’s Evenings at the TM, where members and non-members of the museum can mingle with experts and scholars after a guest lecture over light refreshments. And of course, there are many family events, including the annual Celebration of Textiles, in which artists demonstrate the making of textiles and children are allowed to try a hand at it themselves.

Posted on November 28, 2011 by Rin-rin Yu
Textile museum attraction Washington DC
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