Our History

Photo of museum exterior

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum

On July 26, 2011, The Textile Museum and the George Washington University announced plans to join together to establish a new museum on GW’s main campus in Foggy Bottom. The museum includes dedicated galleries and increased exhibition space for The Textile Museum Collection, the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, and relevant artworks from the university’s collection.

Public exhibitions and programs involve GW faculty and students in academic collaborations. A state-of-the-art conservation and collections resource center on GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus offers long-term protection, study, access, and care of the collections. 

The Textile Museum's original home in Washington D.C.'s Kalorama neighborhood

The Textile Museum

Created and prized by cultures around the world for millennia, textiles are beautiful works of art that tell us stories about the people who made them. The Textile Museum was established in 1925 by collector and connoisseur George Hewitt Myers to expand public knowledge and appreciation—locally, nationally, and internationally—of the artistic merits and cultural importance of the world's textiles through scholarship, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Myers founded the museum with his personal collection of 275 rugs and 60 related textiles. He continued to collect throughout his lifetime, expanding the museum's holdings to include 4,600 rugs and textiles from Africa, Asia, and Latin America by the time of his death in 1957. Today, The Textile Museum Collection encompasses more than 20,000 objects that date from 3,000 BCE to the present. For eighty-nine years (1925–2014) The Textile Museum was housed in two historic buildings in Washington, D.C.—Myers's family home, designed in 1913 by John Russell Pope, and an adjacent building designed by Waddy Wood in 1908.

A Washington, D.C. map from the Washingtoniana Collection

The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection

Albert H. Small, a 2009 recipient of the Presidential National Humanities Medal, donated his unparalleled collection of Washingtoniana to the university in February 2011, to help establish a new museum. Some sixty years in the making, the collection contains rare maps, drawings, letters and documents, lithographs, and books relating to the history and evolution of the city of Washington and the nation’s capital. A rotating selection of the collection will be on permanent display in the new museum’s Woodhull House.

Small is a longtime supporter of the humanities and has served on many prominent civic and cultural boards. In 2009, he received the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Barack Obama, and in 2011, received the President’s Medal from the George Washington University—the highest honor the university president can bestow.


The Textile Museum's 2014 Annual Report

Learn more about The Textile Museum's transition to the university.