Learn About Textiles

The Textile Museum of Canada supports lifelong learning by offering opportunities for active engagement through public programs and self-directed exploration with our online resources.

We have public programs, online resources and Learning Hub staff readily available to help you dive deep into our exhibitions or learn more about your own textiles and how to care for them. Our rich variety of programs such as workshops, artist talks and tours are currently being offered virtually. We will be transitioning into hybrid online and in-person programming in October of 2021, as permitted by provincial COVID-19 guidelines. Please keep an eye on our What’s On page for our upcoming programs! 

LEARN MAINIMAGE
LEARN LIBRARY
Learning Hub Hours

On Wednesday evenings from 5-7 pm and Saturday afternoons from 2-5 pm, the studio space in the Learning Hub will be available for drop-in textile activities on a first-come, first-served basis. 

While the Textile Reuse Program will be accessible at any time the Museum is open, access to the adjacent studio space outside of drop-in times will be subject to availability.

01. Textile Learning Hub

We are excited to welcome you to our new Textile Learning Hub on the second floor! The Learning Hub will offer activities that link the collection, exhibitions, textile making and the library together in a hive of exploration, research, discovery and creation. We look forward to welcoming you!



Our newly renovated space will be the new home for studio activities, our Library, our Life Cycle of a Textile display, and our reimagined Textile Reuse Program, featuring great deals on materials for makers.

LEARN LIBRARY
Information Requests

Please email us at library@textilemuseum.ca
with specific information requests.

02. Library

The Library at the Textile Museum of Canada offers a unique reference collection of resources about textiles and textile traditions from around the world, including over 4,500 books, 20 journal titles, numerous subject files, and a small collection of DVDs and videos.

Our Library is open to the public for research during the Museum’s Open Hours, and our online catalogue of books and periodicals can be accessed anywhere in the world. This was made possible with the support of the William R. and Shirley Beatty Charitable Foundation. 

The renovation on the Museum’s second floor has positioned the Library to be a key part of the new Textile Learning Hub, closely integrated with our education and collection activities.  

In the Fall of 2021, the space adjacent to the Library in the Learning Hub will open up and provide a comfortable reading centre for visitors to access magazines, periodicals and materials relating to current exhibitions. Here, the Museum’s online collection of 15,000 textiles will be available to access through a computer terminal. 

Public Programs

03. Public Programs

We are offering a rich variety of online programming such as workshops, artist talks and tours. We will be transitioning into hybrid online and in-person programming in October of 2021, as permitted by provincial COVID-19 guidelines.

We support intergenerational learning through our monthly Textile Teach-ins, family drop-in programs during school holidays, and a robust schedule of lectures, workshops, seminars, and tours in conjunction with current exhibitions.

Our programs extend beyond our walls, across Toronto. We facilitate workshops for families and youth at Toronto Public Library branches and partner with social agencies through our Community Makers program to develop workshops that meet the needs of the communities that they serve.

04. Education Guides

The Textile Museum of Canada offers a range of educational resources to complement your visit and extend learning outside our walls.

Our digital resources provide opportunities to engage with rich content, including the Museum’s award-winning online projects, current and past exhibition guides, and our online permanent collection.

Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios

December 7, 2019 – January 1, 2021

Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios presents a collection of graphic textiles produced in Nunavut in the 1950s and 60s.

Anna Torma: Permanent Danger

Aug 7, 2020 – Mar 20, 2021

Anna Torma’s large embroideries are complex expressions of her experiences of family, immigration, joy, and the act of creation.

Wild

October 2, 2019 – March 15, 2020

Wild features work by five emerging Canadian artists who make mischief of neat and tidy systems of classification.

Tapestry of Spirit: The Torah Stitch by Stitch Project

June 12 – November 17, 2019

The Torah Stitch by Stitch Project was a collaborative cross-stitched representation of the Torah.

Nadia Myre: Balancing Acts

April 25, 2019 – September 15, 2019

Balancing Acts was a solo exhibition of work by internationally acclaimed artist Nadia Myre.

Beads, they’re sewn so tight

October 10, 2018 – May 26, 2019

Beads, they’re sewn so tight, guest curated by Lisa Myers, was an exhibition of work by four contemporary artists who innovate in the field of beading and quillwork.

Crosscurrents: Canada in the Making

June 27, 2018 – March 31, 2019

Crosscurrents explored the diversity of textile traditions that enliven this country; an outcome of ongoing encounters between First Peoples, settler Canadians, and newcomers.

05. Caring for Your Textiles

Textiles are sensitive to their environment.

The conservation department at the Textile Museum of Canada safely and ethically cares for our collection.

Light can fade and degrade textiles as they age. Humidity can cause mould growth and break down the fibres. Dirt and liquids can stain them easily. Moths and other insects eat woollen garments and damage any adjacent materials in the process, both natural and synthetic. Poor storage can cause textiles to stretch out of shape, causing permanent structural damage.

The work of the conservation department can be found throughout the Museum but it can be hard to spot because it’s done behind-the-scenes. Our Conservator is responsible for the care and safekeeping of the objects in our collection, as well as any pieces we are displaying that have been loaned to us. This is achieved through a variety of methods including monitoring the environment inside the Museum, adjusting light levels for textiles in the galleries, and using display methods that are safe for every piece.

Conservation tasks help us keep our textiles in the best condition possible but sometimes treatment is required. When this happens, we use stable, archival materials that will help increase the textile’s longevity without sacrificing the integrity of the object.

We also strive to improve the storage of our collection and have recently undertaken several projects to upgrade storage of textiles with challenging care requirements. As these are done behind-the-scenes we are finding new ways to share this information with our visitors including highlighting the role of conservation in our galleries, social media, and blog posts.

We receive conservation inquiries from visitors who want to learn how to take care of their own textiles. A rare antique collectable, a treasured family heirloom, a favourite item of clothing or home décor–all have challenges to safe care. We also receive requests for information about general museum conservation. We have collected some of our favourite resources for our visitors. This list should not be considered exhaustive:

The Canadian Conservation Institute is a federal institution that has a variety of information related to museum conservation and preservation on their website. Specifically, CCI Notes are small bulletins that discuss a variety of object care issues, from how to properly roll textiles to the effects of the environment on historical objects.

The National Parks Service in the United States has a similar resource called Conserve O Grams. If you are looking for more specific information or are interested in how museums care for their objects, have a look at the NPS Museum Handbook, Part 1: Museum Collections.

The Costume Committee for the international conservation body ICOM has compiled an excellent web workbook covering many aspects of caring for and working with costume, lace, and other textiles. It is also a good resource to assist you if you are trying to identify a piece of “mystery” clothing you have inherited that you’re not sure how to look after it.

There are several useful books subject conservation, ranging from beginner’s guides to from to texts containing in-depth information on textile conservation. A few examples include:

Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist by Harold F. Mailand and Dorothy Stites Alig. Published by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Textile Conservator’s Manual, Second Ed. By Sheila Landi. Published by Butterworth-Heinemann.

Unravelling Textiles: A Handbook for the Preservation of Textile Collections by A. Brokerhof, Foekje Boersma, and S. Van Den Berg. Published by Archetype Books.

Laundry: The Whys and Hows of Cleaning Clothes by Robert Doyle. Published by Sartorial Press.

Some of these titles are available for reference in the Museum’s H.N. Pullar Library or are for sale in the Museum Shop.

Are you looking for a trained professional to perform work on an antique textile in your own collection? Do you have a rare carpet that requires careful cleaning? Unsure where to buy archival supplies to store your precious piece in? Curious how old the textile you recently inherited is, and if it’s valuable? Although we can’t verify the work of the individuals and companies listed below, we have collected their contact information in one place to assist our visitors.

Private Textile Conservators

The services of a professional conservator should be considered for particularly valuable, damaged or fragile pieces. Specialized knowledge covers techniques to repair textiles, preventive steps to help prolong the lifespan of fragile objects, and proper framing methods. Conservators can be found through online directories. See a list of local professionals below. You may also refer to the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators, a non-profit association dedicated to maintaining high standards of professional conservators across Canada.

Textile Conservators in the Toronto Area

Elizabeth Griffin, M.A.C. 416-203-1015  or elizabeth.griffin@primus.ca
Ada Hopkins 416-979-7799, ext. 241 or adarachelhopkins@gmail.com

Antique Carpet Specialists

Companies in the Toronto area who provide antique carpet cleaning and repair:

Persian Rug Specialist 416-654-7111
Royal Antique Rugs  416-488-2029
Turco Persian Rug Co. 647-952-5097

Conservation Supplies

Some of the supplies used to safely store antique textiles can be found at fine art stores, but often they must be purchased from online specialty archival suppliers. A few examples include:

Carr McLean
Talas
Gaylord

Appraisals

The Textile Museum of Canada does not provide appraisal services. We encourage you to have your textiles appraised by a reputable auction house, appraiser, or textile dealer. You can find a number of companies and individuals through an online search, but we can suggest:

Colin Ritchie
3286 Bellevue Road
Victoria, BC
V8X 1C1
1-800-667-0393
appraisals@colinritchie.com