The Textile Museum Joins the George Washington University

July 28, 2011

The collection will be part of a new museum expected to open in 2014.

The Washington, D.C.-based Textile Museum, with its collection of 18,000 works, will be part of the George Washington University Museum, scheduled to open in 2014, the university and the museum announced on Tuesday.

“This collaboration between our two institutions will create extraordinary opportunities for students, faculty and scholars, as well as for the general public,” President Steven Knapp told the standing-room-only audience in the Jack Morton Auditorium.

President Knapp also recognized Albert Small, who donated his unparalleled collection of Washingtoniana, which also will be part of the new museum, to the university in February.

The university has capitalized on its central location in Washington to partner with institutions like the Phillips Collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Shakespeare Theatre and the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Knapp said. He also noted the university’s collections in the Gelman Library and the Brady and Dimock Art Galleries.

“Our new affiliation with The Textile Museum and the construction of the George Washington University Museum reaffirm the university’s role as a vibrant center for cultural and artistic discovery and discourse,” Dr. Knapp said.

Bruce Baganz, president of The Textile Museum’s board of trustees, and Ford W. Bell, president of the American Association of Museums, a nonprofit that represents more than 3,000 institutions and 18,000 individuals, also offered remarks.

Dr. Baganz called the partnership “perhaps the single-most important development for the museum since it opened its doors in 1925.”

“This is a truly unique partnership in the museum world … that joins two pillars of Washington’s cultural and educational life,” Dr. Bell said.

The partnership with The Textile Museum 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 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.

Until the new museum opens, The Textile Museum will continue operating at its current location on S Street, NW.

The university and the museum also announced that The Textile Museum will continue to manage its collection, which will be on perpetual loan to the university, according to an agreement pending final approval by the boards of both institutions.

In addition to Dr. Bell, other prominent figures expressed their congratulations on the partnership, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who called The Textile Museum and the Albert Small collection “especially important additions” to the university. “You have given residents and tourists, alike, a new and different take on our city,” she said in a statement.

Peg Barratt, dean of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said her school will benefit greatly from the partnership, which will “considerably” enhance scholarly pursuits at the school by exposing students and researchers to “materials of great international and historical variety.”

Provost Steven Lerman also expressed his excitement about the new opportunities.

“By bringing The Textile Museum to GW, our university continues to provide incredible resources to our students, the surrounding community and guests to the nation’s capital,” he said. “This new partnership is a reflection of GW’s deep commitment to the arts, museum studies and museum education.”

Other members of the GW community were equally thrilled.

“The Textile Museum is a hidden gem in Washington, so its partnership with GW is very exciting!” said Nikki Rappaport, B.A. ’09.

Ms. Rappaport, who works in GW’s Colonial Sports Marketing, Licensing and Trademarks department, minored in art history as an undergraduate. “It’s wonderful that this collaboration will bring even more cultural opportunities to campus,” she said. “I especially love The Textile Museum’s color-themed exhibits. Green: The Color and the Cause is now on display, and I can’t wait to check it out.”

“Maybe it will put together a Buff and Blue exhibit for our grand opening in 2014!”

To return to the George Washington Today homepage, click here.

Arts & Culture