Visitors observe fabrics at the Textile Museum, which will shut the doors of its home for over 80 years in 2014 for a new location in Foggy Bottom. The museum includes 19,000 pieces, mainly from South America, Asia and Africa. Scott Figatner | Hatchet Photographer
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Colleen Murphy.
Nestled in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood, the 87-year-old home of the Textile Museum blends in with a line of regal, 19th-century buildings.
In a little over a year, the museum will trade its cramped dwelling for a more contemporary home on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus – a transition that is already well underway.
Two-dozen employees and more than 250 volunteers have pitched in to transport more than 19,000 handcrafted textiles – some thousands of years old – out of the red brick building to prepare for the move.
“The move is going very well, but it’s a complex task,” The museum’s interim director Richard West said, adding that each piece must be individually packaged for the move in about a year. Most of the art will be moved on GW’s campus in 2014.
Bruce Baganz, president of the museum’s board of trustees, added that the move takes more time because of the museum’s fragile artifacts.
“You can’t just pick up the pieces and stuff them into a station wagon,” Baganz said.
The Textile Museum will join the George Washington University Museum, a D.C.-focused artifacts collection. Construction on the museum, which was funded by a $5 million donation from D.C.’s Albert H. Small, began in the Woodhull House last month.
Despite having to leave the home of its founder, Baganz said museum patrons are “in a love affair” with the site’s new location.
The building will double the organization’s floor space to more than 70,000 square feet in the bustling Foggy Bottom neighborhood.
The Textile Museum is packing up for its move to GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus. It will leave its home in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood, where it has been since 1925. Scott Figatner | Hatchet Photographer
“[We’re] thrilled because we have so many ways of engagement at the University, and we’re looking forward to all of the intellectual and artistic things we can do together,” Baganz said.
The textiles – which are currently housed in the museum and a neighboring building – will be stored at GW’s Virginia campus, where officials will create an examination space.
West also talked up GW’s partnership, which he said would allow the museum to appeal to more students and expand its seminars, lectures, and internship opportunities.
“We get a great deal [out of this relationship],” West said. “It’s almost where one and one equals three because what you get from the combination is something even greater than the two parts.”
The museum’s current building will be sold after the move takes place in a little over a year, and the funds going toward the textile museum’s endowment.
The University announced the partnership for the $22 million museum in July 2011 as a way to help further academic dialogue in the arts.
“We’re going to be a place where people can gather and have an artistic and cultural discourse that will bring greater levels of engagement,” Baganz said.
The new space will feature multiple gallery spaces to house District artifacts and the museum’s textiles, Baganz said, adding that every three to four months, exhibits would be switched to appeal to the more than 40,000 people who pass through Foggy Bottom on a daily basis so patrons can get a frequently-updated taste of the museum’s vintage ties.
The Textile Museum currently operates on a $3 million annual balanced budget and sees about 30,000 visitors yearly.
Baganz said the move of the museum to Foggy Bottom “will increase the richness for both organizations,” and the staff and patrons are eagerly awaiting the transition to their new, modern home.