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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:14 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1996
Location: Canterbury, UK
I recently received the letter which I have quoted from below concerning the sad and worrying news that financial constraints at the Textiles Museum in Washington (TM) is causing a cut back in staffing - both curatorial, administrative and support. You may already have heard that the TM is no longer moving to its proposed additional new location as it was overstretching itself in so doing. Perhaps, like me, you had not realised that the financial situation was as difficult as it now seems to be.

The letter to fellow textile enthusiasts and researchers came from Mary Frame - a long time researcher of Andean textiles - and Nancy Porter. They believe what it is written to be accurate although not at all complete. They hope that, by harnessing international support, the TM might be persuaded to reconsider some of their cuts, especially that of curator Ann Rowe whose expertise supports a very special collection at the TM as the letter indicates. I encourage forum members to contact the director (Daniel Walker) and the President of the Board (Bruce P. Baganz) before the TM Board Meeting on September 19th - see contact details within the letter.
As you may have heard, The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., has recently eliminated the position of “Curator of Western Hemisphere Textiles”. This move sends a signal that the administration has a relatively low regard for the textiles of the Western Hemisphere, including those of the Americas and the Andes. Yet The Textile Museum has one of the premiere collections of Andean textiles, which has been extensively studied and published by many highly regarded scholars.

Over a span of three decades, Ann Rowe as the curator has prepared exhibits, organized Andean textile conferences, edited issues of the museum’s journal, conference proceedings and catalogues, and written many other ground-breaking publications based on the collection. Her reputation as an expert and authority on textiles of the New World is global. Such unique contributions are usually rewarded by emeritus status, not by the termination of a position.

Assisted by Ann, a wide community of Andean scholars has studied and benefitted from The Textile Museum’s collections. The value of her advice and expertise is uncontested and has always been generously given. Deprived of a Curator of Western Hemisphere Textiles, the value of the collection to both the general public and the scholarly community will be vastly diminished, and a stellar collection of Andean textiles may regrettably drift into obscurity and become essentially inaccessible.

In addition to the cutting of the Western Hemisphere curatorial position, the Library hours have been substantially reduced, the librarian (Mary Mallia) has resigned, and the photo archives coordinator (Jennifer Heimbecker) and shipping clerk (Diego Silva) have been let go, in efforts to reduce the budget deficit. With these particular cuts, the museum has lost key research support functions - collectively, more than half of the heart of a scholarly institution.

There is a possibility that an outcry from national and international scholars, museum professionals, and donors could influence these decisions, if letters to the director (Daniel Walker) and the President of the Board (Bruce P. Baganz) flooded in before the Board Meeting on September 19th.

Addresses for letters:
Daniel Walker, Director,
The Textile Museum,
2320 ‘S’ Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-4088

Bruce P. Baganz, President of the Board of Trustees of The Textile Museum, 2320 ‘S’ Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008-4088
2101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, apt. 73,
Washington, D.C. 20008-1760

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