Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen


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February 22, 2020-November 19, 2021

A prolific collector, Lloyd Cotsen (1929-2017) assembled thousands of textile fragments, garments and other artworks that reflected his admiration for Indigenous cultures and vanishing artistic traditions. His ultimate goal, however, was to create opportunities for a wider audience to appreciate 3,000 years of human creativity. Celebrating a major gift from Margit Sperling Cotsen, this exhibition brought together global treasures gathered over a lifetime.

About the Exhibition

Over his lifetime, Lloyd Cotsen was known as many things: a philanthropist, the CEO of skin- and hair-care company Neutrogena, and a world-renowned collector of textiles, basketry and folk art. 

Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen brought together extraordinary works from Cotsen's collections that reflected his eclectic taste: a Bible published in England in 1617, a 21-foot-long ceremonial dance skirt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an iridescent textile by contemporary Japanese artist Junichi Arai, and much more. Most works came from two textile collections assembled by Cotsen and gifted to GW by his wife, Margit Sperling Cotsen, in 2018. 

More than 90 fragments from the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, part of the 2018 gift, were included. Cotsen created this collection of nearly 4,000 global fragments as a resource for scholars, artists, students and curators. The entire collection is accessible on our collections website.

Delight in Discovery is accompanied by a gallery guide.

Bible cover depicting Adam and Eve

Robert Barker, Bible, London, 1617, T-3086, photo by Bruce M. White.

Red textile with yellow stripes

Mantle, Peru, Inca culture, 9th/11th century, NT-0963.

black and white textile

Ritual textile, Fiji, Cakaudrove district, c. 1900, T-3133.


red and green textile

Shawl fragment, Coptic culture, 3rd/5th century, T-1070, photo by Bruce M. White.


Gold textile

Shihoko Fukumoto (Japanese, b. 1945), Shade of the Sun, 1995, photo by Bruce M. White.

Embroidered shawl

Woman's fichu, India, 18th century, T-3083, photo by Bruce M. White.


Blue and white textile

Textile fragment, Hudson Valley, New York, late 18th century, T-0450, photo by Bruce M. White.

Fringed vest

Vest, United States, Eastern Sioux people, 1890-1910, T-0845, photo by Bruce M. White.

Brown textile

Textile fragment, Central Asia, Sogdian people, Tang dynasty (618-907), T-2540, photo by Bruce M. White.


Video Tour