Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection and the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery are currently closed to visitors. However, we are hard at work bringing stories directly to you.

Find inspiration by enjoying the digital Textile Collection or viewing our virtual exhibitions from your home or wherever you may be. You may also connect with us on our social media platforms—FacebookInstagram, and Twitter—where we bring you meaningful, creative experiences during this time of physical distance.

Online Exhibitions

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage | Feb 5 – Apr 3, 2020

A selection from Unpacked, suitcase hanging from wall containing 3D scene. Image courtesy of nelsonimaging.com.

A selection from Unpacked. Image courtesy of nelsonimaging.com.

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage seeks to humanize the word “refugee.” This multimedia exhibit features the sculptures of Mohamad Hafez, a Syrian-born, Connecticut-based artist and architect who re-creates war-torn domestic interiors within suitcases, as well as interviews with the refugees who fled those exact homes conducted by Iraqi-born Wesleyan University student Ahmed Badr. Pieces from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection will be placed in dialogue with Hafez and Badr’s work to further explore themes of loss, protection, and family. Learn more.

Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas | Sep 5 – Dec 6, 2019

Image: Detail of textiles featured in the “Intersections” exhibit in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. Photo by Dakota Mace.

Image: Detail of textiles featured in the “Intersections” exhibit in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. Photo by Dakota Mace.

Indigenous scholars Kendra Greendeer (Ho-Chunk) and Dakota Mace (Diné) co-curate an exhibition exploring material interrelationships among cultures with long histories of exchange throughout the Americas. Greendeer and Mace reflected on the show: “As Indigenous curators, we felt that it was important to create an exhibition that came from an Indigenous perspective. We wanted to provide a new window to recognize and acknowledge the complexity and interconnectedness of Indigenous peoples through textiles.” Learn more.

Forthcoming online: Lace from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection | Apr 29 – Jul 19, 2020

Lace handkerchief, Unknown artist, Europe, 1870-1929. Gift from the Estate of Helen Louise Allen.

Lace handkerchief, Unknown artist, Europe, 1870-1929. Gift from the Estate of Helen Louise Allen.

Lace is the single largest category of objects in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. How do we make sense of this ubiquitous yet enigmatic material? From fine art on the wall to intimate garments on the body, lace surrounds us yet often goes unnoticed. This exhibition will investigate the complex historical, cultural, technical, and aesthetic histories of lace, changing the ways visitors understand this strong, delicate and beautiful material. Learn more.

Recent events

Teaching Textiles: The History of Craft Instruction

Blue-and-white-stitched detail from an early 19th-century German embroidery sampler in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.

Detail from an early 19th-century German embroidery sampler in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.

December 6 – 7, 2019 | Organized by Dr. Marina Moskowitz

Teaching Textiles: The History of Craft Instruction is a symposium at the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, that will explore the nexus of skill, education, communication, enterprise, and collecting of textiles. Learn more.

Ruth Ketterer Harris Lecture: Henry Drewal

“Come to Your Senses! Understanding Arts Everywhere… and the Arts of Yoruba People in Particular”

Image: Dr. Henry Drewal dances with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, at its African Art Awards event in October 2018.

Image: Dr. Henry Drewal dances with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, at its African Art Awards event in October 2018.

November 13, 2019 | 5:30 – 8:00 PM

This presentation invites the audience to come to its “sense-abilities” in its engagements with the arts. People feel and think with their “body-mind,” an idea whose universal relevance Dr. Drewal explores by way of the arts of the Yoruba in West Africa. Learn more.

About the Collection

Over the past half century, the collection has grown from an original 4,000-piece gift to more than 13,000 objects that have inspired and informed thousands of students, researchers, historians, and textile aficionados. The new Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery is a permanent space dedicated to year-round displays of the collection.

HOURS

Currently closed due to COVID-19 recommendations


LOCATION

1300 Linden Drive,
Madison, WI 53706
Parking info


CONTACT

hlatc@sohe.wisc.edu
(608) 262-1162