Behind the Scenes: The Textiles Collection

Behind the Scenes: The Textiles Collection

might have notice I'm wearing white gloves this is not a formal event I am wearing the gloves to protect the textile from any oils or dirt that might be on my hands hello I'm Kim Ivey I'm one of the curators of textiles here at Colonial Williamsburg I'm also the curator of historic interiors a curator collects catalogs and researches a collection we put together a collection of objects that are related to each other and in fact we use these objects to teach history and material culture we are now in one of our behind-the-scenes spaces of the foundation we're in textile storage it is a large room that houses much of our textile collection those objects might be something has simple has a little alphabet sampler made by schoolgirl or it might be a linen tablecloth or linen bedsheet perhaps that textile is they brocade it's silk or a damask silk that we would use em as a study document we also house in this large room bed coverings such as woven coverlets in quilts and stenciled and patterned counter paints of different types you would also find in here some costumes and costume accessories so we really do have quite a large and extensive collection of textiles within the foundation they range from anywhere has earlie has 1600 and even a little earlier all the way up to about 1990 here we have a whole drawer of needlework pocket books these were the types of objects that were made by females for male relatives often made by a wife or her husband or a daughter for her father we used the textile somewhat like a rare books library and that's basically how we think about this collection here it's relatively small in comparison to other museums but we like it that way it means that these objects are known by us we we actually know them quite intimately this Irish stitch pocket book was owned by Ezekiel teal it came to us filled with wonderful family documents including silhouettes that were made at the Philadelphia of art and then also this wonderful map of Bermuda with a gnat in ireri describing how you should see Bermuda should you visit there it dates about 1840 or so now I have to tell you it's one of my favorite objects in the collection and when I had the opportunity to visit Bermuda several years ago I sent images of the pocket-book end of the map to one of the directors of the decorative arts in Bermuda and she very graciously met me and took me around showing me the sights that were listed here on the map the room we're now in our textile storage room is one of our behind-the-scenes spaces at Colonial Williamsburg it's not open to the general public but that doesn't mean that we don't make our collections available to the general public we have our exhibitions at the Art Museum's we have publications we just recently published a book on our quilt collection we also have some of our textiles out in the historic area the reproductions that our textiles that are out in our historic area are based on the antiques here in the collection well I'm standing here next to a half-scale reproduction bedstead it's been outfitted with reproduction bed hangings all away from a wonderful little top valance here the curtains the base balances the hand hem sheets linen sheets that have been embroidered with the initials of the pretend owner and we use this half scale bedstead as a learning or teaching tool we do workshops lectures using our collections we take appointments to see textiles by researchers and specialists we also make the collection available through amuse ium for you to research so even though the entire collection is not out on display for our visitors to see they do learn about our collection and see it in a number of other ways we have our wig shop our milliner's our staff from the costume design center and our tailors also are often here looking at our costumes and studying them to help them know how to make the reproductions that we see out in the historic area another department that we often find here is our products division they will look at our quilts and coverlets and at our document textiles such as brocade silks or Jamis silks and they will be inspired they'll use these antiques to inspire them wallpaper is sometimes taken after some of our damnedest patterns we have in the textile collection over 9,000 objects we're fortunate in that our objects our conservators and our curators are all located together in one building so we can all work together as a team

2 Replies to “Behind the Scenes: The Textiles Collection”

  1. Hi Mrs. Ivey,
    I have a question: how did you come to be a curator at Williamsburg? Did your college and major affect your career choice? Your job seems wonderful, and I'd love to do what you do someday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *