The museum and its Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center are temporarily closed in response to COVID-19.
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
701 21st Street, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20052
Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center
Discover the world in a fragment
Peru, south coast, c. 750-1000, corner fragment. Cotton, camelid hair; plain weave with supplementary-weft patterning; 28 x 29 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0494
Solomon Islands?, early 20th century, tapa cloth fragment. Bark; applied pigment; 17.8 x 14 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-2922l
China, 160 BCE–130 CE (radiocarbon dated), glove. Silk; plain weave, embroidery; 15.2 x 39.4 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-1483
Austria, Vienna, 1910 (designed), 1912 (reprinted), Wilhelm Martens, Wiener Werkstätte sample, Lama. Linen; plain weave, block printed; 16.5 x 13.3 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0193.185
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba people, early 20th century, garment fragment. Raffia; applied, embroidery; 19 x 57.8 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-1359
Assembled by Lloyd Cotsen, the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection found a new home at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in D.C. in 2018 through a generous gift from Margit Sperling Cotsen.
Lloyd Cotsen: The Collector
Lloyd Cotsen (1929–2017) was the inspired marketing strategist behind the early success of the Neutrogena brand, but he was also a collector, connoisseur, and philanthropist. He traveled the world extensively, following his passions, which included art, architecture, and archaeology. Attracted to woven structures, he recognized the importance of textiles as important forms of cultural expression and historical testimony. He also realized that a fragment could convey almost all the information of a complete textile.
Learn more about Lloyd Cotsen and the donation.
The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection is defined by the extraordinary breadth and depth of artistic expression, cultural heritage, and aesthetic brilliance that is revealed in nearly 4,000 small textiles, fragments, and garments. They represent cultures that span the globe and date from antiquity to the present, including Cotsen’s innovative “Box Project.” Cornerstones of the study collection are fragments from Japan, China, India, pre-Columbian South America, and 16th- to 17th-century Europe. To see the entire collection, visit the collections website.
Japan, 2004, Junichi Arai, Fireworks. Titanium-plated nylon; plain weave, shibori; 58.4 x 47.9 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-2319
China, 308–207 BCE, Warring States Period (475–221 BCE), textile fragment. Silk; plain weave, warp-faced compound weave; 18 x 21 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0327f
India, 17th century, brocaded fragment. Silk, metallic yarn; twill weave, supplementary-weft pattering; 23.7 x 16.3 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0126
Peru, south coast, early Nasca style, c. 1-300 CE, border from a mantle. Camelid hair, cotton; embroidered with a loop stitch; 203 x 2.5 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0093
England, 1617, Caygill Family Bible imprinted by Robert Barker. Silk (cover); tapestry weave; 17.8 x 12.1 x 4.6 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-3086
The Study Center
The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum is located on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus in downtown Washington, D.C. It houses the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, as well as some 100 sample, pattern, and dye chemistry books and a reference library. Items in the collection are mounted in archival folios and stored in boxes, allowing for close examination. The study center is headed by Dr. Marie-Eve Celio-Scheurer, who is building academic collaborations, facilitating research, and developing programming—including roundtables, symposia, and artist residencies. Students, scholars, and artists are invited to consult with Dr. Celio and to make an appointment.
Engage with us
What will you discover? To celebrate the new academic year, the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center presented its first virtual Global Roundtable on October 21 and 22, 2020. Following an introduction to the Cotsen Textile Traces Collection and Center, distinguished scholars, curators, conservators, and artists from five continents analyzed works from the collection, presented and discussed their recent and related research. Six panels over two days were attended by some 500 participants from nearly 30 countries. The Cotsen Textile Traces Global Roundtable is available for viewing:
Session 1: October 21
Session 2: October 22
Explore our collections website and share your ideas, discoveries, and stories with us on Instagram @CotsenTextiles.
Indonesia, Java, 18th century, patchwork trade cloth robe. 750 to 800 patches made of c. 20 different types of textiles dating to the 17th and 18th century (block printed cotton from the Cormandel Coast, silk from Benares, silk ikat from Central Asia, wool and silk velvet from Europe, cotton batik from Indonesia, silk damask from China); 115.6 x 154.9 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-2852
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba people, late 19th century, hat. Raffia; embroidery; 15.2 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-2090
Netherlands, c. 1735, Bizarre silk fragment. Silk; compound weave; 73.7 x 20.6 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0599
England, London, 1787, Alexander Shaw, A Catalog of the Different Specimens of Cloth Collected in the Three Voyages of Captain Cook (…). Sample book with 51 samples of tapa cloth; 22.2 x 18.1 x 1.9 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-3193
Peru, Wari style, c. 750-900, tunic fragment. Camelid hair; plain weave with discontinuous warp and weft, resist dyed; 15 x 72 cm. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-1826
We are deeply grateful to Margit Sperling Cotsen for her generous gift.
Textile images by Bruce M. White Photography except T-3193 by Cait Kennedy
GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.