Newswise — WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2018)— Textiles are an integral part of our daily lives, but where they come from and how they are made can seem mysterious. “Textiles 101,” a new permanent interactive exhibit that opened Jan. 27 at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, explores how fiber, color and structure influence how textiles are made and allows visitors to enter the mind of designers to discover the creative choices that influence textile design.

The museum’s textile displays are normally only for viewing because of the delicate nature of the fabrics. Visitors to this exhibit are encouraged to interact with and experience textiles for themselves. They can touch nine different fibers in raw and processed forms, practice various weaving techniques, examine completed fabrics, watch videos of artists at work, and digitally design a new textile themselves. The exhibit space also serves as a hub for tours, workshops and other activities.

“Through this new permanent display, we introduce visitors to the basics of appreciating the textile arts,” said museum director John Wetenhall. “Interactive displays and videos walk visitors through the fundamentals of fiber, color and structure.” The videos were made by students and recent graduates of GW’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and include documentaries about common fibers shot on location at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, a cotton farm in North Carolina and silk factories in India. 

The exhibit is a 21st century version of a learning center used primarily by children and families at The Textile Museum’s original location on S Street NW. To broaden the focus to a wider audience, the museum engaged graduate students in GW’s Master’s in Museum Education program, including current “Textiles 101” project director Lori Kartchner, to survey students and young professionals about their knowledge and interests regarding textiles. The students recognized that visitors needed an introduction to textile basics in order to appreciate the masterpieces on display from the museum’s collections.

“Textiles are incredible examples of human ingenuity,” said Kartchner, “I hope people will value textiles as expressions of human creativity by recognizing they are the result of planned, intentional choices made by a person.” 

“Textiles 101” was made possible in part by two federal grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as private donations.

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum

Admission is free for museum members, children and current GW students, faculty and staff. A suggested donation of $8 for non-members will support the museum’s exhibitions, collections and educational programs. The museum is open Monday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday – Thursday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Friday 11a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 - 5 p.m. 

Visit the museum’s website for the latest information on exhibitions and educational programs: Additional programming will be announced in the coming months.