491 Dutton St.,
Lowell , MA 01854 UNITED STATES
American Textile History Museum
This is not your run-of-the-mill museum.
From spinning wheels to airplanes and power looms to baseballs, history really comes alive at the American Textile History Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. In our core exhibition, Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time, you’ll spin, weave, design, and recycle your way through time in an amazing interactive experience that explores how textiles shaped our country and impact our lives every day.
Watch how baseballs are made from wool, weave on an authentic hand loom, man the controls of a real airplane, and try on a glove designed for the NASA space program. Explore how textiles are changing our world, from protective clothing for firefighters and soldiers to high-tech “shark skin” suits for Olympic swimmers. See firsthand how many of the clothes you wear are made of wood, crude oil, or plastic soda bottles!
The clothing we wear, the clean water we drink, the sports we play, the cars we drive, and the roads we drive on are made possible through the incredible world of textiles. And you’ll experience it all at the American Textile History Museum.
Check out our rotating special exhibitions exploring fascinating topics through textiles, from the glamour and grace of 1930s fashion to the poignant stories of Vietnam soldiers. Enjoy family-friendly interactive centers for hands-on fiber arts for all ages. Take part in one of our terrific programs for kids of all ages, including make-your-own-craft parties, textile art classes, and summer programs such as American Girl doll sewing and introduction to quilting, sewing, and knitting. And don’t forget to stop by our gift shop for a souvenir to remember your day of fun and discovery.
ATHM has the most significant integrated textile history collection in North America including extensive flat textile and clothing collections, one of the world’s largest and most important collections of spinning wheels and looms, an unparalleled archive of approximately five million American textile samples from the 19th to 21st centuries, and the renowned Osborne Library for textile history research.
At the American Textile History Museum, you’ll never look at the fascinating world of textiles the same way again.
Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam. This exhibit presents the poignant and dramatic stories – told through graffiti left on a troopship’s bunk canvases – of young American soldiers headed to Vietnam during the 1960s. Marking Time is a unique, multi-dimensional exhibit featuring a complete eight-man berthing unit, graffiti-inscribed canvases, and many artifacts collected from the ship. It explores the personal stories of individual soldiers, and the life and operation of the ship and offers an intimate view into an important moment in American History. Through September 25.
Glamour and Grace: 1930s Fashion. In the 1930s, graceful cuts and glamorous fabrics replaced the boxy, boyish styles of the previous decade. In the face of economic hardship, people embraced the streamlined shape, elegant styles and newly invented fibers of a hopeful modernism. This exhibit shows dresses and accessories typical of this extraordinary decade. Through October 16.
Glamour and Grace includes these special programs:
SEPTEMBER 18 at 2:00 pm. Textiles & The Body: The Geometry of Clothing. Madelyn Shaw, Independent Curator. Physics and mathematics are not usually the first words that come to mind when describing fashion design. Learn how geometry and the design of 1930s fashions are integrally related.
OCTOBER 2 at 2:00 pm. Hollywood & Fashion: The Golden Age. Patricia Warner, Professor Emeritus, UMASS Amherst. In 1932, despite the Depression, some 60 million Americans – more than half the total population – went to the movies every single week. Most of them were women. The producers catered to them, giving them glamour and romance, as well as wonderful clothes, makeup, and hairstyles to copy cheaply at home. Learn how these clothes influenced a generation.
American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton St., Lowell, MA. 978-441-0400. www.athm.org
Museum hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed on holidays. School and youth group programs available by reservation Monday through Sunday.
Admission: Free for Museum members & children under 6. $8 for adults (17 and older). $6 for seniors (65 and older), children 6 – 16, and college students with ID.
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