News and Analysis


Textile Museum

The new GW Museum and Textile Museum, which opens on Saturday, includes textiles that are more than 5000 years old. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

The new GW Museum and Textile Museum, which opens on Saturday, includes textiles that are more than 5000 years old. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Robin Eberhardt.

Students and faculty can walk around the galleries of the GW Museum and Textile Museum starting this Saturday to get glimpse of ancient rugs and tapestries from around the world.

The new museum on G and 21st streets showcases carpets, clothes, maps and textiles dating back as much as 5,000 years. The museum has dedicated community space and staffers at the museum will host programs to help students engage with the artifacts, John Wetenhall, the museum’s director said.

“One of the things we strive to do is to make this room accessible for a broad group of students,” Wetenhall said.

Wetenhall added that museum staff purposefully set the museum’s closing time to 6:30 p.m., after business hours, during the week to accommodate students, faculty and neighbors who have work or class during the day.

The museum is began making the move to Foggy Bottom in fall 2012 after an 87-year stint in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood.

Here are some of the ways that the University is trying to open the museum to student participation:

The museum will place an emphasis on students, with  student-led tours and opportunities for students to intern and design exhibits. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

The museum will place an emphasis on students, with student-led tours and opportunities for students to intern and design exhibits. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

1. Students will be able to lead tours of the exhibits.

Wetenhall said the museum asks student tour guides to become familiar with at least one of the exhibits and then they can design a short 10-minute tour based on their preferences.

“We purposely asked the students to devise their own tours, rather us than telling them,” Wetenhall said. “We asked them, ‘What would you colleagues want?’”

2. Students can intern at the museum and gain hands-on experience.

Graduate student Warren Lewis interns for the museum and did the lighting for the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana exhibits in Woodhull House, connected to the museum. Those exhibits displays rare maps, drawings and letters, according to a release.

“To actually have a better understanding of how the lighting works, it’s been an amazing process,” Lewis said.

3. Graduate students can help design the exhibits.

Adriane Roberts, also a graduate student, helped to design the exhibits for the two Washingtoniana exhibits and the textile exhibit that will open in September. She said that she already received a job offer after she designed the displays in the museum.

“Just being part of the process for designing these opening exhibits, that was actually an amazing experience to get the hands-on process, from getting a list of the objects to a completed design,” Roberts said.

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The GW Museum and Textile Museum earned Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Hatchet File Photo. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum and Textile Museum earned Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. File Photo by Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum and Textile Museum earned the second-highest sustainability rating from a leading environmental organization, the University announced Monday.

The building earned a LEED Gold certified rating from U.S. Green Building Council. GW has made sustainability a major focus since University President Knapp arrived in 2007, with 11 building projects becoming LEED certified.

The museum building has lighting controls, a high-efficiency roof, and high-efficiency windows and walls. The U.S. Green Building Council considers factors like water use, energy use, air quality and waste management when it decides ratings. The University’s smoke-free campus campaign also contributed to the Gold rating, according to GW Today.

Officials hope to get LEED certifications for several other projects, including the Science and Engineering Hall and District House. In July, the Milken Institute School of Public Health’s New Hampshire Avenue building received a platinum grade, making it the the only building on campus to receive the organization’s highest rating.

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Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 5:24 p.m.

GW Museum to open in March

Updated: Oct. 7, 2014 at 1:28 p.m.

This post was written by assistant news editor Jacqueline Thomsen.

The GW Museum will open to the public March 21, after construction was completed this summer. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum will open to the public March 21, after construction was completed this summer. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The GW Museum and Textile Museum will officially open to the public this spring.

The museum complex will open March 21, almost four years after the University first announced the projects. Construction was completed on the 46,000-square-foot building on the corner of 21st and G streets this summer.

“We look forward to celebrating the results of these efforts with the University community and many others when the museum opens this March,” museum director John Wetenhall said in a release. “The opening shows should be spectacular.”

The GW Museum will feature artifacts from the Textile Museum and exhibits from donor Albert Small’s Washingtoniana collection. Two of the three opening exhibits will feature items from the Washingtoniana collection, and the third will be the Textile Museum’s largest to date.

The conservation and collections resource center on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus will hold remaining museum pieces.

GW expanded the original budget and size of the facility 50 percent last May to house additional collections and exhibits. Most of the donations for the museum came from Small’s collection and the Textile Museum.

The GW Museum opened in June for a preview with 400 guests, but none of the textiles, artifacts or other exhibits had been moved into the building.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW decided to expand the facility’s size and budget in May. It actually did so in May 2013. We regret this error.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014 7:23 p.m.

Public gets first look at GW Museum

The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for a sneak preview Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for a preview on Friday. Construction for the museum has cost the University about $33 million. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time Friday, unveiling a winding staircase, four stories of gallery space, a library, a gift shop and an activity center.

But the roughly 400 visitors who had an exclusive tour found the museum’s galleries and exhibits empty. The University still needs to move in textiles, a collection of D.C. artifacts and thousands of pieces tied to GW’s history. The 46,000-square-foot museum, GW’s first ever, is slated to open this winter after almost two years of construction that cost the University about $33 million.

GW raised some of the funds in 2011 by partnering with the Textile Museum and the Albert H. Small Washingtonian collection of D.C. history. Fundraising that year included a $25 million gift for the museum, a record for GW at the time.

The museum is also collaborating with departments like the museum studies program, which will bring students and professors to its galleries.

Heather Olsen, a graduate student in the program and an intern at the Textile Museum, said she had pitched ideas for a GW Museum fundraising campaign in class.

“I worked on how to create a planned giving strategy that would reach out to Textile Museum members and donors as well as alumni of the University and merge those two very distinct groups,” she said.

Olsen said the museum fundraising class helped her land an internship with GW Museum’s development team.

“This affiliation with the Textile Museum has allowed the museum studies program to give students real life experiences,” Olsen said.

This post was updated June 7, 2014 to the reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the museum had denied visitors access to the galleries and exhibits Friday. The visitors did have access, though the rooms were empty. We regret this error.

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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.

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Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt speaks at the groundbreaking of the Science and Engineering Hall. Barratt announced Friday that she will resign from her post next summer and assume a faculty position in the department of psychology. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: May 11, 2012, 5 p.m.

The dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences announced Friday that she will step down from her post starting next summer to assume a faculty position.

Peg Barratt, who received harsh feedback from faculty last month in a staff evaluation, will begin teaching in the department of psychology starting June 30, 2013, according to a memo obtained by The Hatchet sent to Columbian College department heads.

A nationwide search for her successor will begin in fall 2012, according to the memo. Barratt said she looks forward to taking a sabbatical and returning to teaching.

“After five years as dean of this great college, it was time to step down and prepare the way for my successor,” Barratt said. ” I’m pleased by what has been accomplished during my tenure in the way of curricular reform, student and faculty scholarship and support, community partnership, alumni engagement, and donor philanthropy .”

More than two-thirds of the school’s 465 full-time professors showed dissatisfaction with Barratt’s vision for the school and ability to understand discipline-specific issues in their survey responses last month.

Discontent with her leadership was critical – and widespread. Senior faculty were more likely to say she is unable to articulate a clear vision for the college and a majority who took the survey said she does not anticipate problems or seek input before establishing policies.

“Teamwork was not characterized as one of the dean’s stronger attributes,” the evaluation summary said, pointing to failure to work with faculty to develop plans, policies and an “atmosphere of trust.”

In a comments section of the evaluation, faculty zoned in on three areas of discontent: Barratt’s proposal last year to move the philosophy department to the Mount Vernon Campus, the Science and Engineering Hall and the 2010 revisions of the general education requirements, according to results from the survey obtained by The Hatchet.

“Peg Barratt has worked with great skill and dedication to build her school’s capacities, engage its alumni, develop its partnerships, and recruit ever stronger faculty and students,” University President Steven Knapp said in a release. “She has been a tireless and eloquent advocate for the school that is not only our largest and most complex school but bears the university’s original name: Columbian College.”

Barratt, an alumna, was hired away from her role as the deputy director of clinical research policy analysis and coordination at the National Institutes of Health in 2007 – the last year of former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s tenure.

Next year, she will continue to work on plans for the Science and Engineering Hall and the George Washington University Museum in addition to strengthening ties with city art institutes, including the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts, the Phillips Collection and the Textile Museum, according to the memo.

This post was clarified on May 11, 2012 to reflect the following:

In a previous version of this article, The Hatchet reported that Peg Barratt would resign next spring on June 30, 2013. Barratt will resign in the summer on June 30, 2013.

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Friday, April 6, 2012 10:07 a.m.

University makes case to city for GW Museum

The four-story GW Museum that will be located at 21st and G streets will be made of limestone. Photo courtesy of the GW Office of Community Relations

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Frankie Kane.

The D.C. Zoning Commission held off on a decision for the GW Museum at a hearing Thursday, asking for further details on traffic surrounding the site.

After the University made its case for the $22 million project that will weave a partnership with the cross-town Textile Museum and house historical city artifacts, the commission delayed taking action on the museum, requesting more information on GW’s plans for 21st and G streets.

The project will transform the University Police Department’s headquarters at the Woodhull House into a four-story home for art from around the world and District but potentially draw more traffic to the area. GW is slated to return to the city agency May 14 and offer details on how it plans to unload and load buses on G Street and regulate traffic along 21st Street.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the area’s top advocacy group, drafted a letter to the zoning body March 22, outlining concerns related to traffic and pedestrian safety problems that might arise near the site. But the group took no formal position of support or opposition to the project.

“This ANC is never afraid to take a position,” Zoning commission chairman Anthony Hood noted.

The zoning commission also hopes to see the D.C. Fire Department’s stance on how loading and unloading of buses would affect emergency vehicles near the site, after the West End Citizens Association – another neighborhood group – submitted a statement citing its traffic safety worries.

Following zoning approval for the project, the museum will need the go-ahead from the National Capital Planning Commission.

The new building – constructed out of limestone similar to Lisner Hall and the Hall of Government – will offer a main entrance on 21st Street and a second entry on G Street. It will also feature a gift shop.

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The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission heard plans Wednesday night from the University on the GW Museum project. Becky Crowder | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Danielle Telson.

Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy group chose not to take action regarding the University’s plans for the GW Museum at a meeting Wednesday night.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission wrote a letter listing concerns to pass along to the D.C. Zoning Commission but did not move to declare support or opposition to the project. GW will make its case for the museum before the zoning body – which must approve the project – April 5.

Commissioners and local residents shared concerns surrounding parking near the Woodhull House – the site of the museum’s future home – citing concerns related to rush hour traffic on 21st Street and the potential for increased pedestrian foot traffic after the museum opens its doors.

The $22 million project uniting the District’s Textile Museum with a cache of historical city artifacts donated to the University last year is slated for completion by spring 2014, pending approval from the zoning commission.

Susan Cora, director of campus planning, said the University hopes to inform tour groups in advance about metered parking that will sit along G Street, offering more space for vehicles to unload away from traffic. GW also plans to keep temporary “no parking” signs in stock to place on G Street – where the new metered parking will sit – when buses are unloading passengers.

The ANC asked in its letter that the zoning commission consider the parking issues and require GW to follow through with the plan for temporary signs.

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A rendering of the four-story GW Museum that will be located at 21st and G streets. Courtesy of the GW Office of Community Relations

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s former director will lead the Textile Museum’s cross-town shift into Foggy Bottom.

W. Rick West was tapped as the museum’s interim director, according to The Washington Post. The $22 million facility uniting the textile collection with a cache of D.C. artifacts donated to the University last year is expected to open in spring 2014.

Construction on the GW Museum, which will transform the Woodhull House into a home for art from both across the city and around the world, is slated to begin by late summer.

The four-story museum will feature  gift shop and two below-ground levels. It will not charge for admission.

GW will approach the zoning commission April 5 for a public hearing on the project.

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University President Steven Knapp announced GW's partnership with the Textile Museum at Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday. Gabriella Demczuk | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A textile museum will join forces with the future George Washington University Museum, University President Steven Knapp announced Tuesday, adding art from around the world to the site that will also feature a collection of historical D.C. artifacts.

The Textile Museum’s move to the Foggy Bottom Campus completes the GW Museum, which is slated to open in 2014.

“The affiliation with the Textile Museum and the construction of the George Washington University Museum reaffirms the University’s role as a vibrant center for artistic discovery and discourse,” Knapp said.

The University will construct a new building for the Textile Museum, which will sit on top of the rose garden on 21st and G streets, adjacent to University Yard. Knapp said the construction, which is included in the 2007 campus plan, does not have a cost estimate yet because the design is in its early stages.

“This collaboration between our two institutions creates unparalleled opportunities for students, faculties and scholars, as well as for the general public,” Knapp said. “It will allow George Washington scholars to integrate these spectacular collections in a wide range of academic studies.”

The textile exhibits will complement the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, which will celebrate the District’s history, in the neighboring Woodhull House, the current headquarters of the University Police Department. GW will use Small’s $5 million donation to renovate the building and design gallery space for his historical collection.

“I think the key part is a museum that is aimed at promoting artistic, historical and cultural understanding in an academic setting,” Knapp said. “We have a vision of reaching out in the community and electronically around the world. It will be a museum that will be local but also global. It will be a museum that will be an educational institution but also a public heritage.”

Dean Kessman, chair of the fine arts and art history department, said the Textile Museum creates a “fantastic situation” for his department.

“We’re in a city that has all the Smithsonians, and at a University with a partnership with the Phillips Museum, but having something here on campus says a lot about the commitment of the University to the arts,” Kessman said. “It’s also a resource for our students to look at actual objects rather than slides or digital projections.”

The Textile Museum, which is located on S and 23rd streets, opened in 1925 and harbors ancient and modern textile and carpet collections from Asia, Africa and the Americas. The museum operates under a $3 million annual balanced budget and draws 30,000 visitors a year, Textile Museum board of trustees president Bruce Baganz said. The museum will continue programming at its current location until the move is completed.

“We are thrilled to be part of George Washington University,” Baganz said. “The identity of the museum, with its rich tradition that has developed over a long period of time, is important for all of us to preserve, and our mission will stay the same as we move to campus.”

The GW museums will not charge admission.




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