A Hidden Gem for Rugs
The Textile Museum
By Jim Bennight
When I visited Washington,
DC last year (Spring '08) I told a friend I was meeting for lunch that
I would be at the Textile Museum that morning to attend a program.
She said, “Oh my! You’re worse than my Dad was in choosing
museums.” Of course we each laughed. Okay, it sounds
like a strange choice to some, but to a rug aficionado, this is the
place to be on most Saturday mornings.
The Textile Museum had a modest
beginning of 275 rugs and 60 related textiles when it was founded in
1925 by George Hewitt Myers, who continued to collect for the museum
until his death in 1957. The collection has now grown to over
18,000 pieces, from contemporary to some dating from 3000 B.C.E. and
is now one of the world’s foremost specialized art museums.
While there are many textiles
ranging from cloth fragments to ethnic costumes, you may be like me
and have more interest in rugs. The Textile Museum collections
include 15th century Mamluk rugs from Egypt, Anatolian and Central Asian
rugs, and a group of 17th century Caucasian dragon carpets and fragments
that may be the best collection in the world outside of Turkey.
On most Saturday mornings,
you can attend Rug & Textile Appreciation Morning.
This program is free to all but there is limited seating so be prompt
or a little early for the 10:30 start. The one I attended was
presented by Jeff Krause and John Howe on Blue in Rugs and Other
Textiles. John Howe is a frequent presenter and often later provides
virtual presentations at http://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/
Other presenters often include
rug professionals and serious collectors and typically include a “show
and tell” time where you are invited to bring an example for discussion.
A few tips when visiting:
The Museum has limited parking but it is a short walk from the
Dupont Circle Metro Station. The Museum doesn’t open until 10
a.m. and there is no place to sit outside while you wait. It is
located near historic “Embassy Row”. In fact there is an Embassy
just a few doors away (dog gone memory won’t tell me
In the mean time, visit their
web site for more details and scheduling.