About the Exhibit
The Burke Museum, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary, has been collecting international textiles for over a century and holds a permanent collection of over 2,000 hand-woven pieces. The Burke textile collection has been widely used for research, but most of these works have never before been on public display. In Weaving Heritage, for the first time, 130 of the most beautifully designed and culturally significant textile masterpieces from the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands will be displayed at the museum.
Weaving Heritage provides museum visitors with a rare opportunity to see outstanding examples of traditional textile arts from Indonesia, Micronesia, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, China, Tibet, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Native American tribal groups including the Salish, Tlingit, Haida, Navajo, and Hopi.
Textiles are complemented with examples of traditional looms, weaving tools, and touchable materials. A hands-on area allows visitors to try simple weaving activities, handle fiber samples, and learn about weaving techniques through video and other resources.
Protecting the future of traditional weaving
For many thousands of years, people all over the world have woven animal and plant fibers into cloth. Hand-woven textiles are closely identified with cultural identity, ethnic pride, technical artistic mastery, and community history. However, in the past 150 years, factors such as the introduction of cheap, machine-made textiles, changes in the availability of traditional materials, the influence of foreign fashions, and economic and political strife in many nations have threatened the survival of hand-woven textile traditions.
In recent decades, some communities have witnessed a resurgence of their weaving heritage, as national governments provide support for training programs, microcredit and financing programs encourage small business development, and community weaving associations use the Internet to market their textiles and reach an international clientele.