Costume and Textiles
The RISD Museum has one of the finest collections of historical textiles and items of dress in this country, with a range that spans the centuries from at least 1500 BCE to the present and that includes representative cloth and clothing from as many geographic areas as possible. Starting with items such a pair of Native American moccasins and a Hawaiian bark cloth acquired in the Museum’s early history, the collection has grown to include more than 26,000 objects today. Our earliest piece is an ancient Egyptian tomb fragment, and a major focus of our present collecting agenda is the acquisition of contemporary fashion and textiles from all over the world. The richness of the Costume and Textiles collections extends from examples of Elizabethan needlework, Italian Renaissance textiles, French printed toile de Jouy, Navajo chief’s blankets, and fashions from the most celebrated European and American designers of the 19th and 20th centuries to a world-renowned group of Japanese Noh theater robes and Buddhist priest robes donated by Lucy Truman Aldrich, the greatest single donor to the Museum’s textile collection.