Many of us love seeing what beautiful things fellow sewists create with their textiles! From quilts to historical fashion, to hats and art displays, these museums and traveling exhibits are the best in Canada and the West Coast for showcasing the art of textiles. Check out these short term and permanent exhibits for your next holiday or your next in-town outing!
1. Textile Museum of Canada
With 3 ongoing exhibits right now, the Textile Museum of Canada in Ontario has over 15,000 pieces to browse while you’re there. The Textile Museum of Canada also hosts events and workshops where attendees can learn quilting techniques, attend talks, or sew-ocial mingles.
The current 3 exhibits at the Textile Museum of Canada feature different themes. Gathering is an exhibit that explores themes related to migration and diaspora, “the search for comfort in the domestic and familial, reclamation of ancestral traditions through contemporary artistic responses, and the relationship between textiles and the environment.” Their Collection Gallery which hosts textiles that are drawn from their permanent collection, “acquired largely by individual donations, dating back to the Museum’s founding in 1975.” And the The Secret Codes: African Nova Scotian Quilts “brings together historic and contemporary quilts by showcasing more than 35 quilts and a selection of 8 paintings that highlight the various functions of quilts over time: as decorated blankets in the home, as possible codes of communication for enslaved people seeking freedom, as records of family history, as a celebration of Black women and culture, and as inspiration for other art forms.”
2. Costume Museum of Canada
The Costume Museum of Canada in Winnipeg “seeks to preserve and exhibit the costumes worn by the people of Canada over the decades.” This volunteer-run organization has a few different exhibits including their “Heritage Fashion Revue” and their “Hat Show.” Check out these fabulous outfits next time you’re in Winnipeg!
3. Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fibre Arts Museum
It’s a bit of a trek to get to this Museum, but so worth it if you’re a textile lover! The Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fibre Arts Museum has this to say about their exhibits and goals: “We envision the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum as a world-class exhibition facility with comprehensive and stimulating educational programs in all fiber arts. Recognized as a premiere source for research, we will be the foundational core of a passionate, vibrant, and evolving fiber arts community. We are here to inspire, teach, and preserve fiber art traditions and culture for future generations.” With festivals and permanent exhibits to enjoy, this wonderful museum tucked away in La Conner Washington features works from over 4,000 different artists from across the ages, some quilters are even from Vancouver Canada!
4. Museum of Vancouver
The Museum of Vancouver hosts rotating exhibits and events that often showcase the beauty of textiles. Currently (until January 1, 2024) the Museum of Vancouver is hosting the historical costume collection curated by SMOC (previously, the Original Costume Museum) called Why Costume Collections Matter which has dozens of historically accurate costumes dating from the 1800s onwards. These wonderfully preserved costumes are only on display for a short time, so grab your tickets while you still can!
This event hosted at the Museum of Vancouver is a great example of a temporary textile exhibit hosted at our local museum. For 1 night these fashion pieces through the ages are being shown to celebrate LGBTQIA2S+ History Month. Learn about queer fashion past and present and enjoy these beautiful display garments and learn about their impact on the queer community.
5. Squamish Arts
Squamish Arts is an art-nonprofit which displays and hosts various shows and classes for art lovers! And they frequently have sewing related works for you to check out. Consider signing up for one of their future events like Pattern Making with Linography for Textiles where participants can learn how to create patterns, carve linography blocks, and print onto large scale textiles and papers.
6. McCord Museum
The McCord Museum in Montreal has over 27,000 garments and accessories in their collection. You can even browse their collection online! McCord Museum says this about their historical collection: “The many examples of mid to late 20th century fashion by local manufacturers and designers and international couturiers illustrate the development of Montreal’s apparel industry, retail sector and import market. Some items are associated with historic Canadian events and renowned individuals.”
7. The Regal Ontario Museum
Not only does the Regal Ontario Museum (ROM) have “over 50,000 textile and costume artifacts, in a display of approximately 200 rotating pieces dating from the 1st millennium BC to the 21st century AD,” they have 2 exhibits on right now that feature beautiful textile art. Being and Belonging is an exhibit that celebrates “Canadian Women’s History Month and Islamic History Month.” Additionally, Noelle Hamlyn’s exhibit Lifers currently on display at ROM showcases hand made vests, coats, and other textile art pieces using a variety of different materials such as furs, embroidered brocades, denim and more.