The museum opened on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus in 2015 as the new home of The Textile Museum, established in 1925, and the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, donated to GW in 2011. The museum occupies a custom-built facility and the adjoining historic Woodhull House.
The new museum was created to advance study and appreciation of art, history, and culture. Through collaborations with students and faculty, the museum would also help shape the next generation of scholars and museum professionals.
Since its founding by collector and connoisseur George Hewitt Myers, The Textile Museum has organized exhibitions, educational programs, and scholarship inspired by its textile collections, representing five millennia and five continents. In 2011, leaders at GW and The Textile Museum announced an affiliation that would bring the museum to the university to increase academic opportunities on campus, invigorate textile scholarship, and transform collections care.
Also in 2011, Albert H. Small donated to GW his extensive collection of prints, maps, and ephemera that trace the founding and evolution of Washington, D.C. With this collection as the centerpiece, the university established the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies as part of the new museum, to engage students, scholars, and the public in research and educational programs.