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Recent Textile Exhibitions in Alberta Museums

            The province of Alberta is perhaps best known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, as the starting point of the Alaska Highway, and home to the infamous Calgary Stampede.  Less well known outside of Western Canada is Alberta’s rich cultural heritage and diverse museums.  Alberta is also home to some very fine textile collections—three of which were recently showcased in exhibitions. 

Dressed to rule

1. Dressed to Rule:  18th Century Court Attire in the Mactaggart Collection,    
 
 
The University of Alberta recently received donations of two very significant textile collections.  The Mactaggart Art Collection features more than 700 textiles, costumes and related artifacts dating from the tenth century, many fine examples of 17th and 18th century Chinese court costumes, as well as a very significant collection of Tibetan costumes.  These are complemented by paintings dating from the 13th century to the 20th century including hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, albums and engravings   The Collection, valued at over $37M counts among the largest donations to the University of Alberta.  The Government of Alberta has matched the donation in order to establish the China Institute, dedicated to enhancing teaching and research activities between Canada and China.  The inaugural exhibition of the Mactaggart Art Collection is “Dressed to Rule:  18th Century Court Attire in the Mactaggart Collection”, curated by John Vollmer.  This tiny, precious gem of an exhibition offers a mere taste of the riches the collection holds and the insights its future research will proffer.
 
 installation
2. The storage room housing the Mactaggart Collection, University of Alberta
 
 
             The Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta is home to over 16,000 textiles, garments, and related artifacts.  It has also recently become home to the Gloria Rosenberg Quilt Collection.  Donated by the collector and dealer, Gloria Rosenberg, the collection features 677 quilts purchased between 1958 and 1990, mainly from Eastern Canada and the United States.  The earliest example is thought to date from 1840 while a variety of techniques, materials, and patterns are represented in the Collection.  Valued at $500,000, the Rosenberg Collection will be used for study purposes as well as a resource for local artists and textile scholars. “Collecting Comfort:  Quilt Culture in the Rosenberg Collection”, is an exhibition of twenty-five quilts coordinated by Julia Petrov, celebrating the technical and stylistic breadth of the collection.  Carefully selected and exhibited with captions that juxtapose references to past lives and present realities, it invites further study and reflection.  Both the Clothing and Textiles Collection and the Mactaggart Art Collection are part of the University of Alberta Museums which consists of the 35 different museums and collections at the University of Alberta.

 

crazy quilt

 2. Victorian Crazy Quilt Top, c. 1885 (2006.19.18).  Gift of Alvin and Gloria Rosenberg, Costume and Textile Collection, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta.

            The University of Calgary, a short three-hour hop from Edmonton, is also home to a recent textile donation.  In 2003, Dr Lloyd Erikson donated $1.5M to the Nickle Arts Museum at the University of Calgary to care for, research, and exhibit the Jean and Marie Erikson Collection.  The Collection presently numbers close to 700 artifacts; most are pile-woven carpets from Turkey, the Caucasus, Iran, and Central Asia.  There are also some significant kilims, domestic items such as bags and cushions, and embroideries.  Much of the Collection dates from the nineteenth century although there are examples of late sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century pieces.  Although donation of the Collection is pending, the Museum has actively engaged in its research and development (see TSA Newsletter Volume 19 for further details on the Erikson Collection).  “Patterned Pleasure:  Introducing the Jean and Marie Erikson Collection” was a major exhibition featuring sixty-six of the finest pieces in the Erikson Collection.  It aimed to examine Dr Erikson’s personal approach and rationale to collecting while featuring current research on carpet-making techniques, styles, and interpretation.  The exhibition was accompanied by a color catalogue and an ambitious program of talks and lectures (including one by TSA president, Carol Bier). 

  Cover of the catalogue to Patterned Pleasure

4  Cover of the catalogue to Patterned Pleasure:Introducing the Jean and Marie Erikson Collection.

            Perhaps it is the impending chill of winter that turns Prairie minds to thoughts of brilliant color, rich texture, warmth and comfort.  While Albertans are fortunate to enjoy these three collections and the riches they hold, it is to be hoped that they will become better known outside the province.

 

Michele Hardy

Curator of Decorative Arts
The Nickle Arts Museum
University of Calgary

 Exhitibtions:

Dressed to Rule:  18th Century Court Attire in the Mactaggart Collection, October 24 – December 15, 2007, Gallery A, Telus Centre for Professional Development, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. http://www.museums.mactaggart.ualberta.ca

 
Collecting Comfort:  Quilt Culture in the Rosenberg Collection, October 26 - December 9, 2007, McMullen Gallery, University of Alberta Hospital, and in the foyer of the Human Ecology Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/newsreleases.cfm?id=8827 

 
Patterned Pleasure:  Introducing the Jean and Marie Erikson Collection, September 21 – November 10, 2007, The Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.

http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~nickle/index.shtml  

 

Photographs 

1  A view of Dressed to Rule:  18th Century Court Attire in the Mactaggart Collection, University of Alberta.

2  The storage room housing the Mactaggart Collection, University of Alberta.

3  Victorian Crazy Quilt Top, c. 1885 (2006.19.18).  Gift of Alvin and Gloria Rosenberg, Costume and Textile Collection, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta.

4  Cover of the catalogue to Patterned Pleasure:  Introducing the Jean and Marie Erikson Collection.

 

this articel is reprinted here from:

Textile Society of America Newsletter 20, pp 142008 Beyond Cowboy Culture: Recent Textile Exhibitions in Alberta Museums, with permissiom of the author Michele Hardy

 
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