The Embroiderer's Story

Jacket Exhibit

December 21st, 2009 by Plimoth

As many of you have surmised, the jacket will be exhibited first at Winterthur Museum in Delaware.  Jill Hall had contacted Linda Eaton, curator at Winterthur during the early project conception and Linda had been involved in the project from the beginning to lend support to the original exhibition.  Part way through the project, they expressed interest in having the jacket travel to Winterthur when the exhibition would travel.  When changes were needed in the exhibit plans, we immediately thought of Winterthur as they were familiar with the project and had been planning on requesting a loan in the future.  It seemed a natural for a switch of order to facilitate a smooth transition of project completion to exhibition with Winterthur graciously giving space until the exhibit at Plimoth was ready to launch.

We have been working with Linda to prepare the jacket for exhibition at Winterthur.  Linda and the entire staff at Winterthur are very excited to be able to facilitate the public exhibition of this fantastic project.  Not only will they be dedicating some wonderful space to the jacket, but plan on a much larger exhibition to be mounted in 2011 which will use the jacket and the research surrounding it to tell a much larger story about materials culture and needlework.  Jill, Wendy, the entire lead team and myself are pleased with the partnership between Plimoth and Winterthur.  Winterthur is known for their excellently curated embroidery exhibitions that occur about every two years and coincide with a popular symposium that blends a high level of scholarship and teaching.  I have been honored to be a teacher at it for the last two symposiums and I know that they will do an outstanding job.

One of the ideas in the works is to have a flat screen next to the jacket that would tell the story in film, interviews and slides.  This would enable us to express what this project means much more effectively than any static exhibition would.  Another one of my dreams is to properly light the jacket – not only for conservation but also to allow people to modify the light to see what it would have looked like at the Reveal.  As you can imagine, all this costs money.

As with all museum exhibits and especially in these times, proper ’story-telling’ is expensive and for most museums, exhibitions must be funded externally.  We have quietly started the fund-raising process but would like to include the thousands of readers in that effort.  This has truly been a grass-roots project and I suspect the fundraising will be the same.

Uniquely, the development office was very helpful to build a special web page on the Winterthur site to enable those interested to donate small amounts via credit card.  I believe that this could be a new model for institutions that have not yet understood the power of the craft-person movement.  Over and over I have heard individuals who have worked on the project lament about how embroidery collections are not seen in museums and how they ‘wish’ there was a way to make a $5-$25 contribution matter and for our numbers to be heard.  Well, here is your chance.  To get the ball rolling, Thistle Threads will match your contributions, no matter how small, up to a maximum of $3000 by December 31st of this year.  There is a button on the sidebar to click that takes you to the restricted fund page at Winterthur where you can make a donation that is restricted to the Jacket Exhibition.

I hope that you will join me and not only fund the exhibition but also help to make ripples happen in the museum community that will benefit our ability to have embroidery and costume cared for and exhibited in the future.  I know this seems lofty.  But heck – making a jacket like this seemed crazy too.


P.S.  From the number of weekly visitors to the blog – a $5-$25 contribution from everyone would fund the entire exhibition at Winterthur before the end of the year.  Now that would be power in numbers!

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