Past Exhibitions

Wonder of Wool: Ancient Fiber to Modern Marvel

Through May 31, 2016

As ATHM undergoes a significant transformation, this exhibit is currently open only to members, educational programs, and private groups. Become a member today. 

Wool is one of the most commonly used fibers in the world – and easily the most misunderstood.  Wonder of Wool: Ancient Fiber to Modern Marvel takes a fascinating look at the significance of sheep and wool in our culture and our everyday lives.

Wonder of Wool explores the unique characteristics of the fabric that have made it so useful both historically and today, as well as the tools of the trade and the dramatic changes in processing wool, which allow us to accomplish in minutes what once took days. An ancient fiber and a modern marvel, wool remains an important fiber with a new emphasis on making it easier to care for and more comfortable to wear.

Nature by Design

Through May 31, 2016

Title Panel Meola small

As ATHM undergoes a significant transformation, this exhibit is currently open only to members, educational programs, and private groups. Become a member today.

Nature is the oldest and richest source of design inspiration. The objects in Nature by Design share a common characteristic: they are both artful and useful, functional and aesthetically pleasing. This exhibit explores the rise and decline of the great movements of art, from Classicism and Romanticism to Art Deco, and their impact on our culture, society, and economy. 

ARTIST TEXTILES: Picasso to Warhol

November 21, 2014 – March 29, 2015


This exhibition, on loan from the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, traces the history of 20th century art in textiles. Highlights include work by Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, Raoul Dufy, Barbara Hepworth, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Ben Nicholson and Andy Warhol.

The exhibition features examples of key European and American art movements: Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art; as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Artist Textiles shows how ordinary people were once able to engage with modern art in a personal and intimate way through their clothing and home furnishings. With over 200 rare pieces, many of which have not been on public display before.

Fiberart International 2013

July 11 – October 26, 2014

Fiberart International 2013

Fiberart International 2013 is the 21st in a series of triennial juried exhibitions sponsored by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Inc. Chosen by a distinguished panel of artists and curators, Fiberart International 2013 (FI13) features 79 works by established and emerging artists, providing a unique opportunity to see current trends and innovations in this constantly evolving medium.

Learn more information about Fiberart International 2013 >>

MILL WORKS: Flowers in the Factory and Inventing Lowell


The American Textile History Museum is delighted to present MILL WORKS: Inventing Lowell and Flowers in the Factory,  two very special exhibitions transporting visitors into the captivating world of 19th-century New England.

Curated by ATHM Director of Interpretation David Unger, these are two dramatically different exhibits with a common theme of New England’s textile mills. Inventing Lowell is a preview of a absorbing video series on the founding of Lowell, produced by ATHM and Lowell Telecommunications Corp. for the 2015 “Places of Invention” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  Flowers in the Factory is an innovative, large-scale, fabric art installation bringing historic photographs from the ATHM collection to life through ethereal, translucent silk-screened fabric panels by artist Deborah Baronas. Together, they create an experience not to be missed.

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. >>

To Catch the Eye: Advertising and the Art of Business

August 31, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Advertising and the Art of Business

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.

Behind the Veil: Brides and their Dresses

April 6, 2013 – August 11, 2013

Behind the Veil

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 explored 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 highlighted 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 explored generations of women and the stories of their bridal attire.

Learn more about Behind the Veil >>

Suited for Space

December 15, 2012 – March 3, 2013
Suited for Space

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

Learn more about Suited for Space >>

Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War

June 30, 2012 – November 25, 2012

Homefront and Battlefield

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 about Homefront & Battlefield >>