The Once and Future Museum

In our monthly acknowledgement of an institution that works to preserve and celebrate traditional textiles, we present a special museum close to home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

In the lobby of the Colorado State University Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising hangs a plaque that reads, “Avenir means future . . . Thank you for helping us weave together the threads of our future.”

The future looks very bright indeed for the Avenir Museum. Due to a lead gift from the Avenir Foundation and funding from other supporters, the Museum has undergone a dramatic makeover during the past year. A renovation of the current space and an addition of 10,000 square feet now provides for two galleries, classroom and seminar space, a library, a conservation laboratory, and expanded collection storage and management areas.

AVenir Museum
The new addition to the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising.

The Avenir’s ability to showcase both new and antique collections will increase, but also it will have “the ability to bring people together all in one place, not separating gallery space from classroom space,” said Doreen Beard, director of operations and engagement. She is delighted for design, history, and textile students, researchers, and the larger community to have access to what she regards as an “astonishing collection.”  And it is.

The Avenir Museum is host to an impressive collection of more than 8,000 textiles and garments from cultures around the world, including more than 300 Japanese kimonos, a collection of Central Asian ikat and embroidered textiles, more than 200 Latin American pieces, and Pre-Columbian textiles from Peru. Rounding out the Museum’s holdings are a wide range of 19th- and 20th-century artificats—everything from beaded flapper dresses and famous designer apparel to an extensive lace collection, consisting of more than 1,500 pieces of historic lace and lacemaking tools. The Avenir has currently catalogued about 20,000 items in its collection.

Avenir Museum

The Future Begins

The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising will celebrate a grand opening in its brand new facility, January 30, 2016.  Honoring the past with an eye to the future is the theme of the four inaugural exhibitions. “They are held together by one overarching theme: the passion of our loyal supporters for the woven stories told by our clothing and textiles,” said Beard. From miniature quilts to a delicious collection of evening gowns by designer Richard Blackwell, the four opening exhibitions feature the work or collections of just a few of the many dedicated supporters of the museum. Two of the exhibits focus on Guatemala.

Layers of Meaning: Color and Design in Guatemalan Textiles is a vibrant exhibition, featuring traditional Guatemalan textiles donated to the Avenir Museum by two longtime supporters: folk art collector and author, Martha Egan, and Mary Littrell, textile collector and former head of the Department of Design and Merchandising.

Avenir Museum
Guatemalan textile from the collection at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising.

The Power of Maya Women’s Artistry is a traveling exhibition of contemporary work by the textile artists of The Maya Women’s Rug Hooking Cooperative of Guatemala. The work by this rug hooking cooperative creates artistic and economic opportunity for women from Guatemala. Several artists and cooperative representatives will be at the Avenir for several days in early April, for lectures and a weekend rug hooking workshop.

Avenir Musuem
Hooked rug from the Maya Women’s Rug Hooking Cooperative.

Congratulations to the Avenir Museum on its terrific new home and best wishes for a future woven together with the finest of threads.


All photos courtesy of the Avenir Museum.

A Thrums Book just might be the perfect companion to your next textile museum visit. Discover More!

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