Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.



Donations of textile collections are essential for universities and museums that rely on historical and ethnographic textiles for research, teaching, and exhibitions. In turn, collectors who have amassed substantial numbers of textiles seek appropriate donation venues. Provenance related to collecting individual textiles may be lost, however, before a donor selects an institution, or before the donation has been accessioned into a university or museum collection. A donation received after the demise of a donor who did not document individual pieces limits the provenance—the history of the source and ownership—of individual textiles. Without provenance, it is tempting to see even the most intriguing textiles as inanimate objects. In addition, limited provenance restricts the story-telling ability of textiles. In this paper, we describe a method intended to capture provenance for each textile in a living donation bequeathed as a planned gift.

Judi Arndt Central Asian Collection

Judith (Judi) Arndt, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, is a textile artisan and collector. She established a career as a professional interior designer and lived abroad for many years with her husband and children. As time permitted, she studied and developed skills in dyeing and weaving. Informed by her understanding of the patience and time required for handproduced textiles, she collected pieces that were specific to her interest in natural dyes and complex weaving techniques. When did she realize that she had a collection?

. . . when I realized that my passion for travel and textiles came together as a single focus, and the textiles were starting to take over my home. While traveling to various underdeveloped areas I also wanted to support what women in these countries were doing to support their families. They were making a living from producing the same crafts that I had been doing since the late 1950s.

Judi grew to love Asian textiles, Central Asian textiles in particular. Aware that the strength of her collection lay in dye and weaving techniques, she sought an appropriate educational venue that would use her collection for teaching and research. Her network of textile enthusiasts acquainted her with the strong ethnic focus of the textile program at Colorado State University, where faculty members have strong roots in socially responsible production and marketing of artisan textiles. Based on these factors, she decided on the Museum of Design and Merchandising, a facility housed within the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University.