Located just beyond our neighborhood’s northeast border, the Textile Museum at George Washington University offers visitors nearly a century worth of art and history. Founded in 1925 by George Hewitt Myers, the museum’s mission has always been to feed public knowledge and context for creative achievements and cultural significance of worldly textiles. Through its scholarships, educational programs, and exhibitions, the Textile Museum brings an extraordinary understanding of the industry to aspiring academics, and curious viewers alike.
The museum’s collection is one of the most comprehensive and sizable groupings of textiles in the world: over 19,000 works span over five millennia and five continents (all but Australia and Antarctica). The museum also holds an impressive collection of prints and maps related to Washington, DC’s history in its Washingtoniana exhibition. . Other crowd favorites include colorful Oriental Rugs collection (don’t miss the 17th century “dragon” carpets) and its sub-Saharan African textiles (we love the 19th century ceremonial skirt from what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo).
The Textile Museum’s temporary exhibitions cover a wide range of topics related to the industry and its creative products. One recent display entitled The Sultan’s Garden: the Blossoming of Ottoman Art offered a look into the stylized flowers common in Ottoman artwork. Art by the Yard: Women Design Mid-Century Britain focused on works by Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Groag, and Marian Mahler, three envelope-pushing female designers who changed the world of textile design in post World War II Britain.
The thoughtfulness of the curated exhibitions and the variety of works represented throughout the Textile Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions make it one of the District’s top cultural destinations. On an academic level, the institution is a valuable resource with its the 20,000 volume Arthur D. Jenkins Library of Textile Arts, one of the world’s premier suppliers of information on the medium.
For more information on the Textile Museum, and George Washington University, check out their website here.