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
+1 202-994-5200

To find out more or to schedule a virtual appointment for research, contact:

Marie-Eve Celio, PhD
Academic Coordinator
+1 202-994-2246

Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center

Discover the world in a fragment

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

Photo: Lloyd Cotsen in his office at Neutrogena headquarters, c. 1990
Photo: Lloyd Cotsen in his office at Neutrogena headquarters, c. 1990

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 study

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.

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.

Institution photo
Photo: Dr. Marie-Eve Celio-Scheurer conducting reseach in the Cotsen Study Center

Engage with us

Student Colloquium
Join us on April 17, 2021, as 11 students from four universities present their research on fragments that intrigue them from the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection--including Byzantine, "Coptic," South Asian, European, and Euro-American textiles--and engage with professors about their findings. Follow this link for more information on this virtual program and registration.

Global Roundtable
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.

Campus Advisories

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

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