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The Second World War ended 75 years ago and there were going to be various large and small celebrations that would reflect this event throughout Europe. However, due to the cornona virus pandemic many of these events had to be postponed or even cancelled. Not surprisingly, the planned TRC’s exhibition on textiles and WWII was also postponed. Yet, ironically, this has given us more time to expand it!  It also means that the exhibition, which will now open on 16th September, has a much larger and relevant story that links up with the present-day crisis (although of course the war was incomparable in scale and suffering). How do people cope during a period of uncertainty?

A painted brooch made of wood, with a personal memento of the German attack on The Netherlands in May 1940. 'Ter herinnering aan hen die vielen. 10-15 mei 1940' (TRC 2019.2292).A painted brooch made of wood, with a personal memento of the German attack on The Netherlands in May 1940. 'Ter herinnering aan hen die vielen. 10-15 mei 1940' (TRC 2019.2292).

The TRC story begins with items from just before the Second World War and follows the historical progress of the events with the aid of contemporary photographs, fashionable garments, make-do and mended garments and footwear (such as a pair of boots repaired with really heavy wooden soles). Other topics covered include the role of rationing and the tragic fate of the Jewish community in Europe. The exhibition shows a yellow Star-of-David, which Jews in Nazi-occupied countries were forced to attach to their garments. There are items relating to the Princess Irene Brigade in England, formed by Dutch men and women who had ended up in Great Britain during the war. There are coins, postage stamps, newspapers and magazines of the period.

Rationing coupons for textiles (TRC 2020.2704a).Rationing coupons for textiles (TRC 2020.2704a).Attention is paid to a range of objects celebrating the liberation in 1945. Notably parachute garments and souvenirs made for soldiers, such as silver coin jewellery (brooches, bracelets, pins), painted clogs, postcards, and of course various Dutch flags and orange-coloured items that were hung out of windows, outfits for children that were worn at Liberation parties, etc. There will be other items from just after the war, including a Liberation breakfast tablecloth and a Dutch soldier’s uniform made from redundant British army supplies.

In addition, on display will be several feestroks (special festive skirts) that were designed just after the war to represent 'unity after adversity' and the bringing together (rather than the separation) of various groups. Another theme that resonates with current events.

Bracelet made of silver Wilhelmina coins (TRC 2020.2714).Bracelet made of silver Wilhelmina coins (TRC 2020.2714).Thanks to the help of the Mennonite (Doopsgezinden) community in The Netherlands and in Germany, there will be at least fifteen Mennonite relief quilts that were made and sent from the USA and Canada to northern Europe just after the war. These quilts represent a form of relief that continues to the present day, as relief quilts are still being made by the Mennonites in vast quantities and sent to countries in need, such as war-torn Syria.

The setting up of the exhibition is being helped by Mrs. E. Bonte from Leiden, who has lent various objects as well as providing numerous stories about her family in Leiden during the war.

If you have any items you would like to donate, or stories to tell, please let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pair of heavily mended socks from The Netherlands, 1940's (2007.0742).Pair of heavily mended socks from The Netherlands, 1940's (2007.0742).

The exhibition will open to the public on the 16th September and remain until (and including) the 17th December. Based on current guidelines, only five people at a time can be allowed into the Gallery, so please make an appointment well in advance.

Gillian Vogelsang, 7th June 2020.

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

The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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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 Stichting Textile Research Centre.
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 also be made via Paypal: