Top Textile Museums in the world and their websites for the die hard Fabric lover

Life is all about adjustments. You want a Lamborghini but you get adjusted to and even come to love the small hatchback you now drive. You want a double Decker cheese burger but you settle for watermelon slices for the greater good (ok, some times). You want to travel the whole world to see and learn about all the textiles in the world – but you have to adjust to your budget and sit at home and look at your meager (read pathetic) fabric collection.

If I have enough money, I would visit one of these museums (or all of them) for the wonderful textiles at display there. Alternatively, as I said, as an adjustment, you can sit at home and browse photographs of a fair share of their collections in the museum websites.

So here are the textile museums and their websites – most of them have digital collections on display on their websites.

Textile Museums

North American Textile Museums

The Textile museum – George Washington university museum, Washington DC, USA

This textile museum has a wonderful collection of textile art ( counting 20000 articles)  from all over the world spanning 5000 years. The Arthur D. Jenkins Library is another great resource for a textile enthusiast.

For more details check out their website here.

Museum for Textiles, Toronto, Canada

This Canadian textile museum has a permanent  textile collection spanning about 2,000 years with more than 13,000 artifacts including precious textiles,  garments, carpets, quilts from all over the world. It also conducts rotating exhibitions showcasing the works of local, national and international contemporary artists.

You can look at some of their collections here.

Textile collections at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is the largest art museum in the western United States, says its website. They have extensive galleries with a remarkable permanent collection of textiles including wall hangings and quilts. These are all carefully preserved under the supervision of the members of the LACMA Conservation Center for the enjoyment of all the history and art lovers of the world

You can look at some of their collections here.

Cooper Hewitt, National Museum of design, New York, USA

This is a museum dedicated to design, housed in the 64 room home of industrialist Andrew Carnegie . Many articles on textiles and  a wonderful collection of videos can be found on their website here

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, California, USA

The  website of this museum says that  “mission of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is to promote the art, craft and history of quilts and textiles” and that  it is “the first museum in the United States to focus exclusively on quilts and textiles as an art form”.

Have a look at the website of the museum here.

The Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum (SQTM) Virginia, USA

The main highlight of this museum other than the display of many quilts, is the library with more than 2400 books about quilting and other fiber arts.

You can find more details here

The American Museum of Quilts & Textiles, USA

This museum has a collection of over 250 quilts, a selection of Navajo weavings, hooked rugs, and woven coverlets. Some of them are in permanent display in their Textile room and the quilts are hung on large panels for easy viewing.

You can find more details on their website here

Shelburne Museum, Vermont, USA

This museum has a varied permanent collection of quilts, woven coverlets, needlework, hooked rugs, and printed fabrics from the eighteenth century to the present  as well as  rotating exhibitions of other quilts, hooked rugs, woven coverlets, and samplers.The website of the museum claims that “The Museum’s American quilts comprise one of the largest and finest museum collection in the country”. 

You can find more details on their website here

Virginia Quilt Museum, USA

This Official Quilt Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia  is located in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. You can get to see a large permanent collection and traveling exhibitions featuring many Heirloom quilts, contemporary quilts and art quilts, along with educational programs, group tours, and a variety of special events here.

Their website and more details can be found here

Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York, USA

This museum is a treasure trove of art for any art lover. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas” says its website.  You can browse the collection on their website – here is the link.

National Museum of American History – The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, USA

The Smithsonian American Art Museum located in Washington DC has a large collection of art works. For  a textile lover their collection of more than 500 quilts and quilt-related items, mainly of American origin will be of particular interest – Quilts, Counterpanes, and Throws: A Selection from the National Collection Smithsonian Institution here. You can see videos of beautiful quilts here 

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA

This museum is dedicated to traditional and contemporary African art and design and has a collection of African textiles. You can see some of them here

Peabody Essex Museum- Textiles, Massachusetts, USA

This museum has an impressive collection of costumes and textiles from around the world, primarily from the late 17th-century forward

Here is a page with their collection on Japanese art and textiles.

Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, Madison, USA

This is not a museum but a permanent space located in the premises of  University of Wisconsin-Madisonwith and houses 13,000 textile artifacts spanning 16 centuries and 108 countries. The invaluable collection is a delight for any fabric lover.

You can find some of them in online display here

Textile Museum in South America.

Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Textile Museum of Oaxaca  is completely dedicated to textiles and textile art. There are frequent exhibitions here showcasing textile art of contemporary artists and houses a permanent collection of Mexican and Central American textiles.

Details here

Textile museums in Europe

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the principal museum of the University of Cambridge.

You can find pictures of their collections in their website here. Type in textile in the search box that appears.

Textiel Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands

The Textiel Museum gives a lowdown on what happens in a textile factory, the techniques and machinery used there, the textile designs created. The history of the textile Industry in Holland is represented and explained and textile designs created of many designers and artists are displayed.

You can find details of the museum  here

Musée de la mode et du textile, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Museum of Fashion & Textiles has a collection of  silks, and other textiles, accessories, costumes, and tapestry amounting to about 152,800 pieces from the third century to the present day. 

Read more about the museum  here

Textile Museum of Decorative Arts (Le musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratif) Lyons, France

Wikipedia says that this museum has one of the largest international collection of textiles, like about 2,50000 units, spanning the history of fabrics and clothes for about 4000 years. Something no textile lover would want to miss.

You can find more details here

The Wesserling Textile Museum, , Alsace, France.

The Haute-Alsace Textile Ecomuseum  located in the town of Husseren-Wesserling , in the Alsace Region of France, has a permanent exhibition showcasing the history of cotton textile and many collections following the history of textile industry from the late 18th to early 19th century. The museum used to be a printing house in the Wesserling textile industry and traces the history of printed fabric in the Alsace area.

Check out their website here.

 Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes or MISE, Mulhouse, France

Museum of Printing Fabrics has over 6 million patterns and 50,000 textile documents. If you are interested in the history of textiles this is the museum for you.

You can find more information here

Textile museum, Blonduos, Iceland

This Museum showcases Icelandic national costumes and handy craft, embroideries, wool and other textiles used in Icelandic costumes, Tools and Equipment used in textile production are all exhibited here.

Find more details in their website 

Germanisches National museum, Nuremberg, Germany

This is “the largest museum of cultural history in the German-speaking region” and one of Europe’s best. 25,000 objects from the prehistoric ages to the present are on permanent display here. The textile collection of the Germanic National Museum include  printed textiles from the past including ones with needlework, and lace and knitting, rare to find tapestries.

Find more about this museum here

Textilmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Museo tessile di San Gallo is a must see textile museum for a textile lover; “the highlights of the collection are late antique fabrics from Coptic graves in Egypt, historical embroideries from the 14th century on, handmade lace from major European lace-making centers, ethnological textiles, historical fabrics and costumes, needlework utensils, and contemporary textile art objects. ” The development of the textile industry in Eastern Switzerland is also well documented here. 

You can find some of their online collections here.

Textile museums in Asia & Africa

Calico Textile Museum, India, Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India

Founded by the owner of Calico Mills of Ahmedabad, Gautam Sarabhai in the city of Ahmedabad, one of the leading centers of textile production in India this museum houses a beautiful collection of textiles and costumes showcasing the rich history of Indian textiles. Many items including furnishings and costumes of the Mughal and regional courts and textiles which are embellished with rich bead work, embroidery in the Indian traditional styles are displayed here

Find more details  here

The National Handicrafts and Hand looms Museum (NHHM) New Delhi , India 

It is a renowned crafts museum in the capital of India with a rich collection of textiles  displayed in  Courtly Craft & Textiles Gallery. The website of the museum says ” Textile Gallery hosts an extensive collection of traditional Indian textiles which covers the vast range of hand-woven and handcrafted techniques found throughout India.”

Finds details here

National Silk Museum, China

An impressive collection which can be accessed on this page here 

Yokohama Silk Museum, Japan

This museum as the name suggests follows the history of silk textile  in Japan and has many historical costumes like Kimonos.You can learn about the history of silk, how silk is made etc from the displays here.

Find more details here

National Textile Museum, Kualalampur, Malaysia

Here you can find a good display of Malaysian traditional textiles and personal jewels as well as galleries that showcase the origin of textiles, making of them, developing of prints and patterns etc.

Find more about the museum here.

National Textile Museum, Bhutan

Located in Thimphu district in Bhutan, this is a museum which displays the  textile history of Bhutan and presents a variety of Bhutanese textiles , including textiles from indigenous fibers and with  traditional textile patterns,  clothes, paintings etc

All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art,Moscow,Russia

The museum features beautiful artistic textiles with special weaves, silks from the culturally rich Russia, all eye candy for a textile lover. You can have a look at some of them here

Egyptian Textile Museum, Cairo, Egypt

This is the only textile museum in Middle east, which traces the history of textiles in the region. It has a collection of rare textiles from ancient Egypt (even belonging to the pharaohs) and Greco-roman textiles, Coptic textiles etc. A must see for anyone interested in the history of textiles.

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