Past Exhibitions

Threads: The Weaving of Stories

Ended October 18, 2009



Adam and Eve, or some early humans, may have woven the first garment from animal or plant fibers to cover their skins and sins in order to stay warm and contrite. Whether fact or fiction, the role of textiles is woven into the story of human evolution and civilization. Textiles are versatile and universal; they can be as flexible as a cotton shirt and as strong as a NASA space suit. Threads: The Weaving of Stories will include the work of seven contemporary artists who explore and interpret textile themes: Jerry Beck, Claudia Bucher, Johnny Carrera, Diana Coluntino, Annet Couwenberg, Kim Salerno, and Isabel Riley. Their work will fuse the history of traditional textiles with contemporary issues, including science, technology, current fashion, history, and politics.

What Followed Me Home: Collecting Antique Quilts,
Fabrics, and Tools

Ended October 4, 2009

What Followed Me Home: Collecting Antique Quilts, Fabrics, and Tools will give visitors a look into the fabulous personal collection of respected quilt historian Stephanie Hatch.  Over the past 30 years, Ms. Hatch has acquired a wonderful collection of quilts, from doll-size to full-size, fabrics from the 18th and 19th centuries, and tools used for cutting, stitching, and signing.



Quilt from southeastern Massachusetts c. 1825

Quilt National ‘05:

Saturday, June 3 – Sunday, September 3, 2006

The quilt as an art form is alive and well in an innovative special exhibition opening June 3 at the American Textile History Museum. Titled Quilt National ‘05, the exhibit showcases a selection of 30 quilts from the biennial international juried exhibition of contemporary quilts. Juried on originality, design, technique, and craftsmanship, Quilt National, which began in 1978, is one of the most highly regarded exhibitions in the contemporary quilting world.


Kit Vincent
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Finishing Touches:

October 23, 2005 – April 2, 2006

Accessories tell a lot about a person in an exhibition that looks beyond the suit or dress to the last things we pick up or put on – and how they can mark an individual. These “final touches” are presented in historical terms and as a part of contemporary fashion to examine what we wear and why; how new technologies have created the need and/or desire for new accessories; how we change what we wear to keep up with fashion.


Raspberry satin shoes trimmed with
rhinestones by Vionne of Brooklyn, NY, 1930s.
(Elise Morenon, 2000.130.99-A-B)

Batik from Courts and Palaces:
Rudolf Smend Collection Batik Fashion/American Style

May 7, 2005 – September 11, 2005

An exhibition of extraordinary historic batiks from Javanese and Sumatran courts and palaces, and a related exhibit of batiks created by American designers collaborating with Javanese batik artists, explore the complexity, color and sheer beauty of batik artistry and its ongoing influence on American style. Over 60 pieces are featured in this pair of exhibits including elaborate every day clothing with intricate patterns and color, special ceremonial textiles, and contemporary fashions in clothing and home decor. A catalog of the Smend collection is available.


Tok wi Pasisir
c. 1920, 103 x 88 cm
Photo credit: Bernhard Schaub, Köln

Born on the 4th of July: Lowell Celebrates Our Nation

November, 2004 – April 2, 2005

Textile symbols from America’s heritage celebrate our nation and the important role textiles have played in describing American views of country and character. Artifacts, ranging from coverlets to cloth labels and costumes in design motifs from stars and stripes to soaring eagles, are used to explore 18th, 19th and 20th century textile symbols and show how different points of view, all based on love of country and defense of her principles, have been embraced as patriotic. Selections from the ATHM collection will be featured including the “Butler Flag”, the first flag made in the United States of all American material, and produced in Lowell in 1865. This special exhibit, organized by the ATHM, is sponsored in part by Enterprise Bank & Trust Company.

Art Quilts from Around the World on Display in New Exhibit at American Textile History Museum:

July 24, 2004 – October 10, 2004

Beginning July 24, the American Textile History Museum will team up with the Museum of Arts & Design in New York to present a remarkable assembly of quilts in a special exhibition tracing the development of the art quilt from the 1930s to the present.


Katherine Westphal

Let’s Go Hawaiian!

January 31, 2004 – June 20, 2004

The American Textile History Museum presents a special exhibition, Let’s Go Hawaiian from January to June, 2004. It is a fanciful look at our fascination with Hawaii, its influence on mainstream culture, and a lighthearted exploration of the cult of the Hawaiian shirt.

image_exhibit_hawaii4_ukelele_thumb Shirt #126

Runway Madness!
The fashion photography of Lucian Perkins:

August 16, 2003 through January 4, 2004

Twice each year, the fashion industry presents a romantic spectacle. Fashion Week in New York is a time when top designers present the drama, fantasy and artistic talent that is the fashion industry. The creations that grace the catwalks determine to a large extent, what the rest of us will come to think of as currently fashionable.


American Fiber Art:

April 12 2003- July 20, 2003

An exhibition exploring the work of several generations of exceptional artists who use fiber materials and techniques will be shown in ATHM’s changing exhibit gallery from April 12 through July 20, 2003. Six internationally recognized artists were invited to exhibit work spanning their careers. Then each chose both an artist who influenced their early career and an innovative emerging artist for inclusion in the exhibit.