Textile Room Changes

January 29, 2013 -

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One of the closed season projects this year has been the installation of a new display system in the Textile Room. Collections Manager, Kate Hebert, explains more about this development.

Since the Museum opened over 50 years ago, the Textile Room has been a favourite stop for many visitors. Individuals keen to see the world-famous quilts often bypass the other museum exhibits and head directly for the displays in this hallowed space. Little wonder then that the call to raise funds to pay for updating this tired display space was met with such enthusiasm.


Thanks to this tremendous response, we were able to enlist the services of About Presentation to design a custom-made display system for the quilts, rugs, and woven coverlets in our collection. After much research we determined that the current ‘page’ system of display was the best, allowing for the largest number of textiles to be shown. Using new materials About Presentation have fabricated larger pages thus enabling a wider variety of quilts to be displayed without the need for folding them.

Work began on phase one of the redisplay before Christmas when we removed all objects from the Textile Room. The only item that couldn’t be removed was the mantelpiece and we protected this in situ. Once Christmas had passed, About Presentation arrived to strip out the old display system. In order to remove this unit, some of the wooden panelling was taken down. This action revealed a section of moulding at the top of the wall that had been left in place when the original displays were put in.

The removal of all objects from the Textile Room has provided the perfect opportunity to put up completely different items in their place. Unfortunately, many of the pieces selected for display do not have Velcro sewn onto them (all of the hanging textiles are hung using Velcro that has been sewn onto them and is then fastened to hook Velcro that has been attached to the display panels). Luckily two volunteers have valiantly given up their free time in order to help prepare the textiles for display. We have erected a large trestle table in the space outside one of our Period Rooms and these are now piled high with quilts, woven coverlets, hooked rugs, and Navajo weavings.

While the volunteers are busily sewing at one end of the first floor landing, new panels have been installed in the room at the other end. The heavy snow that fell over Britain at the end of January made the road to the Museum completely impassable, delaying the installation by a week. As soon as the ice disappeared from the road surface About Presentation were back on site to finish putting in the panels. Once they had finished, the Museum cleaners moved in to clean down walls, windows and floors. Now that all the construction dirt and dust has gone we can start to hang the flat textiles. The question on everyone’s mind is, will our dedicated volunteers win the race and finish their sewing before the Museum opens in March?!

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