Past Exhibitions

Color Revolution: Style Meets Science in the 1960s

September 14, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Color Revolution: Style Meets Science in the 1960s

Celebrating the explosion of color and design that generated the funky, fun, and psychedelic styles of the ‘60s, Color Revolution explores the new dyes, fibers, and designs of this fertile period and helps visitors understand how technology and design support each other.”

Learn more about Color Revolution and the special programs that will accompany it. >>

To Catch the Eye: Advertising and the Art of Business

August 31, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Textile manufacturers used advertising to create brand identities between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. They employed new printing technologies, the latest design trends, and images from popular art to catch the eyes and imaginations of buyers. The ideas and branding techniques they developed contributed to the creation of contemporary consumer culture. This exhibit showcases a century of textile advertising art and design, including elaborate lettering of early trade cards, the sentimental scenes depicted on cloth labels, and the elaborate exhibits shown at world's fairs.

Classimeres Lowell Mills for Mens Wear

Behind the Veil: Brides and their Dresses

April 6, 2013 – August 11, 2013

Behind the Veil: Brides and their Dresses Exhibition

Whether extravagant or frugal, traditional or fashion-forward, the story behind a bride’s dress has much to tell us about her life as well as our common culture. A symbol of love and commitment, the wedding dress personifies girlhood fantasies, a moment of transition, a performance of cultural values. Behind the Veil: Brides and Their Dresses explores how brides over the past 100 years have chosen their wedding dresses, and how their decisions are shaped by fashion, family, and finances. This exhibition highlights not only the dresses worn on the big day, but the stories of the women who wore them – whether a traditional princess-style dress or a funky animal print, whether a simple homemade dress from the early 19th century or a mini worn in 1969. How have women created alternatives to the iconic white dress, or how have they embraced the fairytale wedding? More than an historical survey, this exhibition explores generations of women and the stories of their bridal attire.

Learn more information about Behind the Veil >>

Suited for Space

Suited for Space Exhibit

December 15, 2012 – March 3, 2013

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy stated the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them as well. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration was not possible.

ATHM will host "Suited for Space", a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, explores the evolution of spacesuit development from the first quarter of the 20th century until the dawn of the shuttle era.

Learn more information about Suited for Space >>

Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War

June 30, 2012 – November 25, 2012

Homefront & Battlefield Quilts & Context in the Civil War

The American Textile History Museum (ATHM) is contributing to the nationwide conversation on the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War (1861-65) through Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, an intriguing and absorbing look at the most divisive period in American history.

When civil war broke out in America, the very fabric of life was altered. ATHM showcases this pivotal period in American history through a new lens, reflecting the personal sacrifice, heroism, mourning and reconciliation that changed the course of our country.

Learn more information about Homefront & Battlefield >>

Aloft: The Wonder of Kites

An exploration of creativity, possibility and big ideas.
November 5, 2011 – May 27, 2012

Kites have entertained children and adults for thousands of years, but have also had a profound impact on history, from Benjamin Franklin’s exploration of wind and weather to the Wright Brothers’ first successful powered flight.  They are objects of artistic expression as well as cultural and religious symbols, tools of war, artifacts of history and instruments of science, technology and mathematics. More

Aloft: The Wonder of Kites

Aloft: The Wonder of Kites

Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions

May 21, 2011 – October 16, 2011
In the 1930s, graceful cuts and glamorous fabrics replaced the boxy, boyish styles of the previous decade. In the face of economic hardship, people embraced the streamlined shape, elegant styles and newly invented fibers of a hopeful modernism. This exhibit shows dresses and accessories typical of this extraordinary decade.

Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions   Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions   Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions

Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam

May 21, 2011 – September 25, 2011
Marking Time is a unique, multi-dimensional exhibit featuring a complete eight-man berthing unity, graffiti inscribed canvases, and many artifacts collected from the U.S.N.S. Walker. It explores the personal stories of individual soldiers, and the life and operation of the ship.

Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam   Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam

American Tapestry Biennial 8

January 22, 2011 – May 1, 2011

The biennial is organized by the American Tapestry Alliance and features works by 54 artists from around the world.

The juror for this show, Rebecca A.T. Stevens, is the Consulting Curator for Contemporary Textiles at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.  She is the author of numerous articles on contemporary American textiles and has served on the editorial board of The Textile Museum Journal and Textile:  The Journey of Cloth and Culture. More

Exhibit: American Tapestry Biennial 8

High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture

August 14, 2010 - January 2, 2011

The fine art of French fashion comes to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, with the opening of High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture. Organized by the FIDM Museum & Galleries at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, the exhibition examines the world of haute couture through 41 ensembles donated to the FIDM Museum by Betsy Bloomingdale, wife of department store heir and Diners Club credit card founder Alfred Bloomingdale, over the course of four decades. More

Exhibit: High Style

Molly Hixon's "Sparkle" Paintings Visit the Weston Howland Textile Learning Center (TLC)

August 14, 2010 - January 2, 2011

We are very pleased to showcase a series of paintings created for the ATHM by up and coming visual artist Camomile (Molly) Hixon, who exploded onto the New York art scene in 2010 with her collection of “sparkle” paintings on canvas using glitter as the primary medium. More

Exhibit: Sparkle

Inspired Design: Lasell College at ATHM

May 15, 2010 - August 1, 2010

American Textile History Museum Partners With Lasell College For “Inspired Design” Hat Exhibit
Everything old is new again at the American Textile History Museum, where a stunning new exhibit showcases contemporary hat designs by talented young designers from Lasell College along with the hats that inspired them from ATHM’s amazing historic collection. More

Inspired Design: Lasell College at ATHM   Inspired Design: Lasell College at ATHM   Inspired Design: Lasell College at ATHM

More Than a Number

April 17, 2010 - July 25, 2010

More Than a Number supported in part by a grant from Mass Humanities is a project of Light of Cambodian Children, Inc. in collaboration with the American Textile History Museum, Voice of Cambodian Children, Lowell National Historical Park, Khmer Legacies Project, Cultural Organization of Lowell, Angkor Dance Troupe, and Lowell Community Health Center. It is a multi-layered project that will bring together a remembrance of the genocide that began thirty-five years ago, recognition of survivors and their struggles, and appreciation of today’s Cambodian and Cambodian-American culture. For more information, visit: More

Exhibit: More Than a Number

Aprons: Fifties FUNctional Fashion

November 6 through April 18, 2010

This exhibit showcases a fun and fashionable collection of the popular accessory from the fifties. Aprons on display range from practical to stylish and bring to mind the housewives, waitresses and hostesses who wore them. A section of novelty aprons, such as those made from handkerchiefs, and travel souvenir aprons will also be on display. A large portion of the aprons were donated to ATHM in 2008 by Joyce Cheney. Several other aprons already in the Museum collection will also be featured. More

Exhibit: Aprons: Fifties Functional Fashion

Changing Landscapes: Contemporary Chinese Fiber Art

October 23, 2009 through March 14, 2010

This exhibit, co-curated by Ni Yue-Hong, a professor at the Fiber Arts Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijin and Deborah Corsini, curator of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, offers two-dimensional tapestries as well as sculptural work by emerging, mid-career, and master artists who study or teach at institutions of higher education throughout China. The exhibit is a snapshot of how three generations of artists working in fiber media are documenting, navigating, and responding to the tremendous economic, political, and social changes that have transformed the Chinese landscape over the past decade. More

Exhibit: Changing LandscapesExhibit: Textile Revolution

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.

Exhibit: Threads: The Weaving of Stories

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. More

Quilt from southeastern Massachusetts c. 1825

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. More

Lancaster Series: Witness

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. More

Raspberry satin shoes trimmed

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

Batik from Courts and Palaces:
The 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. More

Tok wi Pasisir

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.

Born on the 4th of July

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. More

Katherine Westphal

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. More

Shirt #126

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. More

Runway Madness!

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. More


Fashion, Dolls, and the Art of Growing Up:

November 9, 2002 - March 23, 2003
Explore how generations of little girls' lives have been shaped by and are reflected in some of their most dearly-loved playthings - their dolls. From American Girl to Barbie to Grandma's cherished porcelain-faced playmate, this exhibition is a nostalgic trip through childhood and a look at how girls' perceptions of themselves and the fashions they emulate have changed. It will also be a chance to glimpse the fantasies of earlier generations of children and to compare it to our own notions of childhood, girlhood and womanhood today. More


From the Mills:
Contemporary Quilters, Historic Designs:

August 11, 2002 - October 20, 2002
Twelve winning entries will be the centerpiece of a juried exhibition of fine contemporary quilts opening at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts on August 11, 2002. The Museum joins six other sites for the Lowell Quilt Festival, a city-wide celebration running through August 18. The ATHM exhibit, titled From the Mills: Contemporary Quilters, Historic Designs, is the result of a contest sponsored by the Museum and P&B Textiles. More

From the Mills

The Pentagon Comfort Quilts
A special commemorative exhibit:

September 2, 2002 - September 13, 2002
The Pentagon Quilts are gifts from the hearts and hands of freedom-loving people. They were fashioned in honor of those whose lives were lost on September 11, in gratitude of those who survived, and in appreciation for the heroic efforts of those who helped in the aftermath. There will be a special commemoration ceremony at noon on September 11 in front of the Museum. More

The Pentagon Comfort Quilts

Jack Lenor Larsen:
The Company and the Cloth:

June 15, 2002 - July 28, 2002
The first major exhibition from the company archive of Jack Lenor Larsen, long considered to be the dean of modern fabric design, opens at the American Textile History Museum on June 15, 2002 and continues through July 28, 2002. This will be the only venue in the east for the exhibit, which was organized by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. More

Jack Lenor Larsen

All for One & One for All!:
Uniforms in Fact and Fantasy:

January 26, 2002 - May 27, 2002
When the heroes of The Three Musketeers exclaim, "All for one and one for all!," they commit themselves to a common goal and promise to protect and help one another. That pledge is the starting point for an exploration of the role uniforms play in all our lives. Every day we see people in uniform-police, firefighters, airline pilots, athletes, and doctors all wear uniforms. Often, that's how we recognize people and know who they are. But, is it really that simple? All for One & One for All!: Uniforms in Fact and Fantasy is an interactive exhibition of fun and discovery that features more than fifty very different uniforms. More

All for One & One for All

Stylish Hats:
200 Years of Sartorial Sculpture:

September 16, 2001 - December 31, 2001
Two hundred hats take center stage this fall when Stylish Hats: 200 Years of Sartorial Sculpture - a delightful exhibition of over 200 hats and headdresses - opens to the public on September 16, 2001. More

Stylish Hats

Textile Art from Southern Appalachia:
The Quiet Work of Women:

February 4, 2001 -May 27, 2001
Forty-three coverlets and a small selection of quilts, clothing, weaving drafts and accessories dating from 1830 to 1930, focus on thirty-two women to trace the important role handweaving played in Appalachian culture as part of a rich, decorative mountain arts tradition. This exhibition brings together the most extensive collection of woven art from the region ever assembled for the public. These art objects offer insight into overshot coverlet weaving with their bold patterns and unusual, bright color combinations. Many of the pieces are being shown for the first time outside the artists' local communities, giving visitors the opportunity to discover the relationship between traditional weaving and contemporary graphic design. More

Textile Art from Southern Appalachia


491 Dutton Street
Lowell, MA 01854-4221
Tel: (978) 441-0400
Fax: (978) 441-1412

Textile Revolution:
An Exploration through Space and Time

from Wednesday-Sunday, 10am - 5pm We look forward to seeing you!