As major construction on the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum wraps up and museum staff prepare to begin the painstaking process of readying the space for its planned opening, members of the GW community will have a unique opportunity to preview the building. From 2 to 4 p.m. this Friday, students, staff and faculty can get a behind-the-scenes look at the progress unfolding at the Foggy Bottom Campus’s newest center for arts and culture.
The custom-built museum building boasts 46,000 square feet on the corner of 21st and G streets. The museum will be home to the 90-year-old Textile Museum and its globally recognized collection of more than 19,000 objects dating from 3000 BCE to the present, including some of the world’s finest examples of rugs and textiles from the Near East, Central Asia, East and Southeast Asia, Africa and the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The new museum also includes a renovation of the university’s historic Woodhull House, where the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection of 860 historic documents and maps will be displayed.
Friday’s preview event will allow the GW community to envision the exhibitions that will be displayed once the museum opens. Guests can walk through the brand new facility, tour galleries and program rooms, and hear from curators who will discuss the first exhibitions. Following the preview, the museum will be closed to the public until its grand opening. Over the next several months, the building will be finished to museum quality and undergo extensive testing and calibration of sensitive climate control systems. Exhibitions will be built and priceless artifacts will be carefully prepared for display.
Below, George Washington Today identified some of the must-see areas visitors should make sure to look for during Friday’s preview.
1. Brand new elliptical staircase: The museum’s breathtaking elliptical staircase curves up from the lobby to the third floor of the building. It will provide visitors with unique views of state-of-the-art second and third floor galleries, where walls are up to 30 feet high to display large-scale objects.
2. George Hewitt Myers Multipurpose Room: This area will serve as a meeting and program room for GW students and museum visitors. It was named in honor of The Textile Museum’s founder, who began collecting textiles in 1896. He donated his impressive collection to The Textile Museum in 1925.
3. Walk-in textile freezer: A giant walk-in freezer has been installed in the building as a critical part of the museum’s textile pest management protocol. It was designed to allow large textiles and freeze objects at -30 degrees Celsius. The museum also has several exhibition preparation and collections care rooms to treat objects going on display.
4. Renovated Woodhull House: Built in 1855 by Maxwell Woodhull, the newly renovated Woodhull House will showcase historic artifacts from the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, which was donated to GW in 2011. These maps, documents and other ephemera detail the founding and evolution of Washington, D.C.
The open house follows the recent preview of the conservation and collections resource center on the university’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus.