Christine here. We rug braiders don’t have a national museums, like the quilters and rug hookers do. Maybe in the future there will be enough recognition of the Art of Rug Braiding to allow the creation of one. For right now, we are very pleased when we even get our braided rugs on exhibit, as in the recent show in Sauder Village of Contemporary Braided Art Rugs.
I am delighted to say that the Sauder exhibit — or at least, a goodly portion of it — will travel to two other sites: (1) The Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s “Hooked in the Mountains” show, October 17-21, in Essex Junction, VT, and (2) the Schwenkfelder Library and Museum, in Pennsburg, PA… in the spring, but dates uncertain. I’m hoping that we can either build an trip to the exhibit into the VF Spring Braid in weekend, or else suggest that people stop on the way to the braid in (it’s about 40 minutes south of Bethlehem, PA).
But in looking for braided rugs that are permanently on display… that’s hard to find. So I thought we should create a Museum List, so that when we’re traveling, we have new and innovative ways to aggravate family members while we go gaze reverently at antique textiles.
I have a few places that I know of for us to start with, and I’m hoping that other braiders from around the country will write in with other destinations for braided textile art.
Oneida Community Mansion House Museum. This museum in Oneida, NY is home to the large collection of braided silk tapestries made by Jessie Catherine Kinsley.
The Oneida Community was one of those breakaway religious communes striving for utopia that grew up in New York in the mid-1800s. Jessie was born in that community, and after her death, the community collected and displayed her braided pieces. These large braided works are wall pieces, and the museum is definitely worth a visit! You can also stay at the mansion, which is a hotel, if desired.
Oneida Community Mansion House Museum
170 Kenwood Avenue
Oneida, NY 13421
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg, VA has Delsie Hoyt’s great grandmother’s pinwheel braided rug in their collection. I don’t think it’s always on permanent display, but the rug is clearly valued — it was just part of an exhibit that traveled to New York City in 2017.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
326 Francis St W, Williamsburg, VA 23185
- The Shaker Village in Mount Lebanon, NY is home to three of the 5 known knit and braided rugs made by Elvira C. Hulett (c. 1805 – 1895).
These stunningly beautiful wool and cotton rugs have complex knit designs that are surrounded and, in some cases intermixed, with rows of braid. The rug shown here is a knit rug with a 5-strand braid then a 3-strand braid.
Shaker Village/Mt Lebanon
202 Shaker Road, New Lebanon, NY 12125
- Another Shaker Village, this one in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, has at least two rugs of mixed textile techniques that feature braided borders in their designs. The beautiful horse rug, above, has a 5- or 6-strand braid at the edge, I can’t quite tell which. The Shakers were amazing in their innovative rug designs!
Shaker Village/Pleasant Hill
3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg KY 40330
The Lincoln Boyhood Memorial and National Park has a huge, 20 foot diameter braided rug in use in the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Hall. The photo above shows the new rug resting atop of the old one, just to make sure the size was right. The rug was made by Country Braid House (https://www.countrybraidhouse.com/), and the new rug was installed earlier this year (2018).
A braided rug was chosen for the hall honoring Lincoln’s mother because they wanted the very best of what would have been available in her lifetime. There is an interesting history on the making of the first rug for this site, and while I won’t go into it here, let me pique your interest by bringing up: state mental institutions and the US Navy.
Lincoln Boyhood Memorial and National Park
3027 East South Street
PO Box 1816
Lincoln City, IN 47552
Does anyone know of other sites where braided rugs are on display or at least part of a museum’s collection? Let me know!