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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from the Rom Newsroom 

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is proud to announce the opening of the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume, named in honour of Mrs. Patricia Harris, in appreciation of the ongoing generous support of Renaissance ROM and the Royal Ontario Museum from Mr. and Mrs. William and Patricia Harris.  The Gallery, located on Level 4 of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, is scheduled to open April 5, 2008.

frechdress *
 Robe à la franaise Silk extended tabby (Gros de Tours) with liser self-patterning andbrocading in silver lamella and fil England (Spitalfields), Rococo, 1750s
973.399.A-C Gift of the Fashion Group Inc. of Toronto in memory of Gwen Cowley

from press release: 

The Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume presents highlights from the ROM’s renowned collection of over 50,000 textile and costume artifacts, in a display of approximately 200 pieces dating from the 1st millennium BC to the 21st century AD. Outstanding examples includeChinese imperial costume, late Antique and early Islamic textiles from Egypt, western fashion from the Baroque period to the present day andearly Canadian coverlets.  These illustrate the extensive transformations in textile design and technology throughout the pastthree millennia.  Due to conservation considerations, the artifacts are to be changed on a regular basis.

Man's civil uniform coat, Wool tabby with silk embroidery,Italy,1805 - 1806 908.7.9*
When this coat was acquired by the ROM in 1908, it was purported to ave been worn by Andrew Darling, coffin-maker to Napoleon I, and so was assumed to be of French origin. However, new research indicates that the earer was likely an Italian nobleman from Lombardy, who was a member of the Order of Merit of the Iron Crown. The coat would have been worn with n orange-yellow ribbon of the Order with green borders on the sash
across the chest, an Italian light sword of civil pattern, a black icorne hat and white silk breeches. 

William Thorsell, the ROM’s Director and CEO, states, “Bill and Pat Harris have been among the ROM’s most generous and dedicated supporters over many years. Given their commitment and knowing full well Pat’s passion and commitment for all things textile-oriented, we are proud to name the Gallery in their honour.”

Patricia Harris affirms, “The spectacular Lee-Chin Crystal surpasses anything I could have imagined. This Gallery is the realization of my husband’s surprise 1999 Christmas gift to me and it is an inspired setting for the ROM’s celebrated collection of textiles and costume. As a ROM volunteer for 50 years, I look forward to the Gallery becoming alive with excited students, members of the fashion and art communities and the public at large. This is a dream come true and I am thrilled.”

Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Fashion Costume Curator and Senior Curator, Textiles & Costume, in the ROM’s World Cultures department, says, “It is most exciting to open the new Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume. This dedicated space allows us to exhibit the depth and breadth of the ROM’s significant collection of textile and fashion arts from around the world and across time. Patricia Harris is an exemplary volunteer, patron and long-time supporter of the Textile department. We are all most fortunate to benefit from and share in Pat and Bill’s passion, enthusiasm and generosity.”

"As inaugural season sponsor of the Lee-Chin Crystal, we are proud to be part of this exciting year for the ROM," said Gerry McCaughey, President and Chief Executive Officer of CIBC. "We are pleased to play a role in bringing the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costume to the public."


 Tiraz fragment Linen and silk tapestry in a linen tabby ground Egypt, Fatimid dynasty mid-12th century, 961.107.3*
This more elaborate example has four bands of inscription which repeat the words "good fortune" and "prosperity" The inscription is done n a cursive style of script called naskhi, indicating a later date of roduction. The rest of the decoration consists of three bands of nterlace enclosing rabbits and birds.

The Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume, at 6,499 square feet (600 square metres), is one of the most dramatic spaces in the newly opened Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Located on the fourth floor, the gallery is a voluminous cathedral-like space with angular walls rising to approximately 43 feet. The peak of the Lee-Chin Crystal, hanging above the edge of the sidewalk below, is located near the gallery’s ceiling. The open-concept design allows textiles to be displayed in unique formations presenting visitors with a three-dimensional experience.

The Jennifer Ivey Bannock In Focus Exhibit at the Gallery’s entrance is a frequently changing exhibit display case highlighting exciting new acquisitions, interesting curatorial research, or textile-related topics in the news. On opening, the display examines the history of a gold and silver overdress that has traveled since 1801 from Egypt to England to Newfoundland, and finally arrived at the ROM in 2001.

The Lynda Hamilton Printing Exhibit displays highlights of the ROM’s printed textile and costume collection through an exploration of the use of paint, ink and dye. Examples include Chinese painted silk, Indian chintz, a Japanese stenciled kimono, Javanese batik wrapper and a Turkmen ikat robe, as well as examples of the important collection of 18th and 19th century French and English woodblock, copperplate and roller printed textiles and costumes. Recent silk screened acquisitions include the c. 1954 furnishing fabric of Danish-born Canadian designer Thor Hansen and an early Vivienne Westwood toga dress (c. 1982-1983).

The Flavia Redelmeier Handweaving in Canada and the World Exhibit establishes that weaving is an ancient technology and has been a primary method of creating cloth throughout human history. Different looms, and their related textiles, illustrate the evolution of weaving techniques, from the simple warp-weighted tapestry loom of the ancient Mediterranean world to the 19th century jacquard loom that produced many of our Canadian coverlets.

Oldest Surviving Textiles showcases archaeological textiles from Pre-Columbian Peru and Late Antique, Early Byzantine and Early Islamic Egypt. It features a magnificent Paracas mantle with embroidered motifs from 200 BC -AD 200.

Throughout history, luxury silk textile designs have been influenced by local taste and fashion to promote notions of personal and cultural prestige in many parts of the world. European Figured Silks provides an overview of the high-end of luxury textile production in Europe from the 15th century to the 18th century that illustrates the evolution of design and technique at its apogee.

The artifacts presented in the Chinese Textile and Costume display case include a spectacular late 19th century surcoat made for an empress with dragon roundels of silk and gold tapestry weave, together with court rank badges used on similar coats in the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).

The ClothingPplatform highlights the art of tailoring from the 18th century to the present day, and includes an 18th century gentleman’s formal suit and a couture cocktail dress, Delphine, by Christian Dior (Fall/Winter 1956 – 1957). The modern deconstruction of classic tailored forms can be seen in a striking Comme des Garçons jacket and vest ensemble from the Fusion Collection (Fall/Winter 1998 – 1999).


Woman's evening dress in Zig-Zag Shell print (detail) Zandra Lindsey Rhodes, CBE (b.1940)Screen printed and painted tabby on blended silk, beaded. ngland, London, 1994 004.14.1 Gift of Rosemary Rathgeb *

The Phyllis Hamilton Needlework Exhibit presents textiles, costume and accessories from around the world that have been created or embellished with needle and thread. An early example of decorative lace work can be seen in a 17th century Flemish cap decorated with needle and bobbin lace, embroidery and smocking. One display case examines 18th century floral embroidery and the links between botany and its exuberant decorative application to male and female fashion. Another displays a small cabinet that demonstrates the high level of English domestic needlework during the 17th century. It is decorated with embroidered panels, telling the story of Isaac and Rebekah, a theme associated with betrothal. The versatile case functioned as a traveling dressing table, pen, pencil, sewing and jewellery box, and safe.

The Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume also includes an area for enjoying audiovisual presentations pertaining to the gallery displays. Screened will be a ROM production, Stavros, Master Tailor, which documents the making of a bespoke suit for William Harris and is a biographical look at the apprenticeship and training of Greek-Canadian tailor, Stavros Theodoropoulos.

Also opening on April 5 is the Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific on Level 3. Reflecting the ROM’s vast and diverse collections that showcase the artistic and cultural traditions of indigenous peoples from outside Canada, this is the first permanent home for these collections in over 30 years. Many of the 1,400 artifacts are on public display for the first time.


*The information here is from the ROM's media office. The images and accompanying information has been provided by the ROM and used with permission. fQ will be presenting a further look at this new exhibition space and the shows featured in future issues. This new exhibition space at the ROM is finally providing the space and time in which to see the large range of textile materials they have in their permanent collection
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