TRC Blog: Textile Moments

The ever growing TRC collection: About lace, velvet, and knitted underwear

Red velvet bag from nineteenth century Iran (TRC 2002.0115).

Red velvet bag from nineteenth century Iran (TRC 2002.0115).

The last week or so have been very busy at the TRC. We have been sorting out the little depot, removing stands, adding racks, and putting items on the table to be photographed, catalogued and boxed. The lace collection, for example, is being moved from one storage system to another, with a much more suitable drawer system. In the process the lace will be further sorted and the descriptions refined. Thanks to the Pepin Donation, there is also a large number of machine made lace samples to be added to the lace collection. The TRC collection now includes a wide range of hand and machine made forms for people to study and be inspired by.

Speaking of inspiration: We currently have two students (Kate and Kazna) from the Manchester School of Art who are helping, among other things, to photograph and catalogue a collection of 1930’s textiles, accessories and fastenings that came from the aunt of a family now living in Wassenaar. The aunt was a textile buyer for a Dutch fashion house during the 1930’s and many of her items were stored in a flat that had to be emptied. She was also involved in the decoration of hats and had a supply of felt hat bases, satin and velvet hat bands, as well as items to decorate hats including hat pins, hat jewellery, feathers, beaded appliqués and buckles. Do you know the difference between a buckle and a clasp? And what exactly is a frame buckle and do you know that they can be divided into practical and decorative forms? There is always new to learn at the TRC.

Read more: The ever growing TRC collection: About lace, velvet, and knitted underwear


Painted curtains again, in Assen

The paintings of hanging curtains, Statenzaal, Drents Muzseum, Assen, The Netherlands (photograph Willem Vogelsang)

The paintings of hanging curtains, Statenzaal, Drents Muzseum, Assen, The Netherlands (photograph Willem Vogelsang)

Late December 2015, I wrote a blog about the paintings of curtains in various ancient monuments in Rome, including the Temple of Romulus at the Forum Romanum, in the Sistine Chapel and in the Santa Maria Maggiore (click here). In the summer of 2016 I saw similarly curtains being painted on a wall in the Chapel of St Gabriel, in Canterbury Cathedral. Last Sunday I saw painted curtains again, but this time at a very unexpected place, namely the beautiful Drents Museum in Assen, capital of the Dutch province of Drenthe.

Painting of curtain, Drents Museum, Assen.

Painting of curtain, Drents Museum, Assen.

On 25th March, the Museum opened a photo exhibition of Dutch military in Kabul, and I had been asked to give a talk about Afghanistan. The Museum is housed in the former Provinciehuis ('Provincial House'). When I was shown the room for the lecture, I was absolutely amazed. It was the so-called Statenzaal, the room where in the past the Staten ('Estates') of Drenthe would meet. This council constitutes the legislative body for the administration of the province.

The room dates to the late nineteenth century and is lavishly decorated, among others with paintings by the Austrian painter Georg Strum. They show the history of the province, from prehistory to the nineteenth century. The building, and its Statenzaal, were designed by Jacobus van Lokhorst, and the actual building was started in 1882. The decorations of the Statenzaal date to this period.

But what attracted my attention in particular were the paintings of curtains, so reminiscent of what I had seen in Rome two years ago. I attach a photograph of the room and one of its walls, decorated with the panels with the painted curtains.

Willem Vogelsang, Saturday 31th March 2018


TRC loan to Gorcums Museum

Bani Tamin woman's dress from Saudi Arabia (TRC 2005.0065).

Bani Tamin woman's dress from Saudi Arabia (TRC 2005.0065).

The Gorcums Museum in Gorcum, Gelderland, has organised a special exhibition on embroidery, with the title ‘Voor de draad ermee’. The exhibition can be seen from 7th April until 9th September this year. The TRC is very pleased to contribute to this event with the loan of 34 beautiful and spectacular pieces of embroidery from the TRC Collection. The embroideries are worked on dresses, headwear, footwear and panels that originate from Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.

Highlights from the TRC loan are the minuscule lotus shoes from China, a large dress from Saudi Arabia, and the Tunisian Raf-Raf wedding outfit. The exhibition has been curated by Linda Hanssen. For the exhibition website, click here.

Gillian Vogelsang, 29th March 2018


Manchester interns at the TRC

Kate and Kazna at the TRC, March 2018

Kate and Kazna at the TRC, March 2018

It’s always fun to volunteer at the TRC, but today was particularly so. That’s because I got to meet two new women who are also passionate about textiles: Kazna Asker and Kate Askham. Both are 21 years old and both are second year fashion students at the Manchester School of Art (part of the Manchester Metropolitan University) in the UK. They will be at the TRC for two months in order to learn the ins and outs of managing a textile and dress collection, and especially to help photograph and catalogue the TRC’s growing collection.

“People are the most important thing to me. That’s what textiles should be about,” says Kate. She sees working at the TRC as a way to gain inspiration for modern design and information on the historical roles textiles have played in the past. “I like the stories that come with textiles and how much that tells you about people and how societies were at specific times.” Next year she will have to design six different outfits for her courses, so she is looking forward to bettering “my knowledge of historical pieces, of shapes and patterns”.

Read more: Manchester interns at the TRC


TRC and the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles

Last summer (2017) Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC Leiden, spent ten days in Los Angeles working at the Fowler Museum, on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. In particular she was working on a collection of early 20th century Syrian garments, including abayas, head coverings and çarsafs. Some of the garments are the most beautiful examples of silk tapestry weaving.

The TRC has just been informed that it has been officially asked by the Fowler Museum to curate an exhibition about the Syrian garments and to write a catalogue to both the collection and the exhibition. All being well the exhibition will open in Los Angeles in February 2019. More details will be published in due course.


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Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:

TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

Current exhibition: For a few sacks more ...., until 28th June

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal: