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After years of negotiating, building, and collecting, the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum opens to the public on March 21. The new 53,000 square foot facility at the corner of 21st and G streets NW houses the Textile Museum’s permanent collection as well as the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection and Center for National Capital Area Studies. (It’ll also serve as an interactive classroom for the university’s art history and museum studies students.) In addition to tablet and video installations that will allow visitors to further explore the work, here’s what viewers can see at the District’s newest museum.
While the old Textile Museum mainly featured pieces of fabric devoid of context, its new home has room for more objects that can be compared to one another. To explain how textiles can temporarily transform individuals, a costume from Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Tempest is displayed next to a video of artist Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits.” The social and political ranks of various individuals are also explained through sarongs, weavings, and rugs dating as far back as 3000 B.C.
Small’s collection includes a lot of maps, including a large Civil War era one that was later confiscated because it marked the locations of D.C.’s various forts. Viewers can take a close look at original images of the region before it earned international import and see George Washington’s handwriting up close in three letters he penned about his plans for D.C.