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George Washington Hosts Textile Museum Symposium
October 17, 2011
Scholars gather in Jack Morton Auditorium for first event of GW and Textile Museum’s partnership.
The Textile Museum presented its annual fall symposium this weekend at GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium, and also opened a groundbreaking new exhibit of central African textiles. The Textile Museum and GW began a partnership in July, and the museum will move its unparalleled collection to a new facility on the Foggy Bottom Campus in 2014.
The exhibit, titled “Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa,” opened Saturday in the museum’s current S Street, NW, location. It will run through Feb. 12, 2012.
“It has been wonderful to hold the 40th Textile Museum Fall Symposium on GW’s campus. In the midst of Colonials Weekend, a panel of scholars explored the roots of Central African Kuba culture and its influences in modern and contemporary design,” said Maryclaire Ramsey, director of The Textile Museum.
Presentation topics on Saturday included the context of the Kuba textiles, the connections between African textiles and 20th-century Western artistic practices and the global impact of textile collecting today. The symposium represented the most comprehensive exploration of central African textiles to date in the United States.
The new exhibit showcases some of the best examples from the complex tradition of central African textile art. These textiles, which distinguished the wealthy and powerful, were created from palm fibers woven in more than 200 distinct patterns. The collection on display includes 140 objects, ranging from small baskets to skirts measuring more than 15 feet in width.
“Beyond The Textile Museum’s physical transformation and move to the forthcoming GW museum, our affiliation with the university will open new doors of opportunity in the intellectual and digital realms for students, faculty and the museum community,” Ms. Ramsey said. “This on-campus program is just the first of many opportunities to collaborate in the months and years to come.”
At an event in July announcing the museum and university collaboration, The Textile Museum Board of Trustees President Bruce Baganz called the partnership “perhaps the single-most important development for the museum since it opened its doors in 1925.”
The partnership will bring the museum’s holdings to the Foggy Bottom Campus, where they will be showcased in a custom-built, approximately 35,000-square-foot building at G and 21st streets.
The university also announced in July that a 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art conservation and resource center dedicated to the study and care of the museum’s historic collections will be constructed on the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Loudoun County, Va.
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