Textiles, Teaching, and Travel

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August, 2014 – November 15, 2014

clothing-exhibit Exhibit opening reception: Sunday, September 21, 2:00-3:30 pm with welcome and curator’s remarks at 2:30 pm Related Lecture: “Cultivating a Collection: The History of the Textiles and Clothing Museum and Its Faculty Donors,” October 10, 5:10 – 6:00 pm, 2019 Morrill Hall

Central to the work of Dr. Agatha Huepenbecker Burnet (1930 – 2012), a dedicated Iowa State University professor and administrator, were textiles, teaching, and travel. Through travel, she built a museum-quality collection of ethnographic textiles and clothing, especially strong in its holdings from Central and South America. This collection, bequeathed to the Textiles & Clothing Museum, forms the core of the exhibition. As Department Head of the Textiles and Clothing (now Apparel, Merchandising, and Design) program from 1973 through 1993, she was also instrumental in championing the creation of a museum collection that followed best practices for the care of textiles and clothing; furthermore, she envisioned a teaching collection that would benefit both students and academic researchers.

Early in her tenure at Iowa State University, Huepenbecker Burnet was active in cataloguing the Home Economics support collections, which would later be codified into the Textiles and Clothing Museum. As an administrator, she was a staunch advocate for the preservation of historic textiles and clothing at Iowa State. As she wrote in an internal memo in 1974: “I would like to see a museum complex which places greater emphasis on its educational and research functions than on its display functions.” According to her friends and colleagues, the museum today, with its conservation lab facilities and upgraded storage system, is largely the result of her diligent efforts, as well as the cultivation and nurturing of relationships with its patrons. The collections of the Textiles and Clothing Museum are readily accessible for “educational and research functions,” frequently used in classroom lectures and independent study projects.

clothing-exhibit-3Committed to her community in Ames and at Iowa State University, as well as those of the many professional organizations in which she served, Huepenbecker Burnet was both friend and mentor to many; she demanded high quality work, but offered encouragement at every turn. Her support of the field, of the community, and of education, continues through an endowment, which provides graduate students the opportunity to work with the Textiles & Clothing Museum.

The exhibition is curated by graduate student Jennifer Farley Gordon, the first recipient of the Agatha Huepenbecker Burnet Endowed Assistantship with the Textiles and Clothing Museum.