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Published: 20 March 2021

By Andy Ross

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Discovering textiles

Discovering Textiles is a new feature on the blog, dedicated to the intriguing stories of the fabrics that clothe, decorate and protect. 

Each week the section will be given over to the history, techniques and cultural meaning of these fabrics or on collections that hold these pieces. This week, in the inaugural piece, we head over to the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum for a look at The Cotsen Collection. 

In 2018 a donation from Margit Sperling Cotsen, the wife of Lloyd Cotsen, CEO of Neutrogena, the skin and hair care company, ensured that the George Washington Museum could fulfill the collector's ambitions to create a resource for scholars, artists, students and curators. The collection is actually two assemblages; the Cotsen Textile Traces collection being one of them. Nearly 4,000 fragments comprise Traces, taking in pieces from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe and these can be viewed online

In 2020 an exhibition at the Museum was mounted to showcase the collection and to advertise its presence. A short guide was produced for Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen which can also be read online.

Lloyd Cotsen was fascinated by weaving and the huge variety of structures that are possible through the craft, as well as the meaning that textiles hold for their makers and users worldwide. This collection will be an invaluable resource for anyone similarly interested.