I visited Windham Textile Museum with my children recently. In part 1 of our textile museum visit, I shared our experience at “Quilting Trio 2016”, which took place in the Dugan Building. In this second part, I’ll share our tour of the main textile museum building.
This textile museum is located in the town of Willimantic, CT. The American Thread Company which at one time was the largest thread company in the world once had a mill located along the river in the town of Willimantic. That earned the town the nickname – “Thread City“. It’s no wonder a textile museum is now located in this town.
I was surprised by the size of the textile museum, though. What I’d expected was a larger building, but it is just a small two story building. I guess back in the day, it must have been an imposing structure. The upper level has a large library space and a conference room.
One of the smaller rooms on this floor – The Brook Shannon Exhibit Room -holds a rich history of sewing machines. This is the room I enjoyed most in the textile museum.
Antique Sewing Machines at The Textile Museum
Some of the sewing machines were enclosed in cases, others were not. Notice the extra huge red pin cushion in the back of this sewing machine? It would have been nice to have a tour guide or docent to help answer some questions but we were on our own.
This room also has sewing machine advertisements from the nineteenth century, which I found very interesting. At the time, the rationale behind sewing machine ads was that, although women did not have enough money to purchase their own sewing machines, they were the main consumers. So advertisers showed them in family settings with the husbands who will eventually purchase the sewing machines for them.
The textile museum has examples of advertisements from all around the world; which I thought was very nice because it showed the different cultural settings.
Sewing Machine Ads
Here’s one from Rhode Island:
And one from Italy:
And one from India:
Just before you walk into the Brook Shannon room, on display is an exhibit of a 25th anniversary quilt. This has been on view in the textile museum since 2014. It was done by the CT members of SAQA. Each block was donated by a member of the group in celebration of the museum’s anniversary.
The block I donated is the fourth from the left on the second row. Here’s a detail shot of the quilt:
Here’s my block:
It was a treat to see the finished quilt for the first time on display at the textile museum.
We also explored a small room full of old typewriters and calculators. To see the size of calculators they used back in the day, lets you know how far technology has come. It also shows how every generation builds on the previous generation’s work to improve it.
Running through the heavy downpour back to our car, with my camera clutched tightly to my chest, (scared that I’ll miss a step and fall), I imagined how far textile art will reach in many generations from now. When the creations of this generation are put on display in a textile museum for later generations to view, I wondered what their impressions will be about the “primitiveness” of our work today.
Read Part 1 of our textile museum visit.