Current Exhibit : 

Technological Textiles: Computing History and Decorative Textiles

January 17, 2020 – TBD

Visit Technological Textiles Online During our Covid-19 Closure

Generative art, or art created with coding as a central characteristic, emerges as the focus of the McCarl Coverlet Gallery’s spring exhibit which focuses on computing technology in the early textile industry. The coverlets emerge as early examples of generative art uses an autonomous system, or the use of an external system to which the artist gives partial or total control. An important highlight in the history of generative art is the invention of the Jacquard loom in 1801. The handloom itself featured a weaving attachment that used introduced the concept of a stored “computer-like” program in the form of punched-cards. These automated cards allowed weavers to produce and replicate complex patterns in textiles quickly and efficiently. Jacquard’s invention revolutionized the weaving industry and punch-card technology paved the way for the invention of both the computer and later forms of generative and algorithmic art.

At Home in the 1800s


Upcoming Exhibits

Remember the Ladies: A Celebration of 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

New dates TBD

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment with a special exhibit that explores the long history of women’s struggle to achieve the vote in the United States. While 1848 emerges as a pivotal moment in written history with the prominent Seneca Falls Convention in New York, women struggled for access to the vote long before 1848. This exhibit explores themes of the meaning of democracy and freedom to women across class and racial lines. It will highlight the ongoing struggle for equality from the founding of the nation through the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 through colorful textiles, artifacts, and documents.


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Thousands of visitors to the McCarl Gallery have appreciated the beauty and craftsmanship of woven coverlets and the machinery that produced them. Rarely, however, do we stop to consider the high cost, paid in human lives, of 19th century cotton and textile production in the American South and the industry’s dependence on the enslavement of Africans.  Cotton grown in the South fueled the Northern textile mills and the products of those mills were sold within the United States and abroad. Weavers relied on spun cotton thread from these mills and the demand for coverlets and other textiles drove the expansion of Southern slavery. The exhibit will juxtapose the visual magnificence of woven textiles with the inhumane realities of 19th century cotton manufacture. Most of the coverlets chosen for this exhibit were intentionally selected because they have unknown weavers or origins. We chose “unknowns” to reflect the realities of the lives of thousands of unknown men and women whose lives were sacrificed at the expense of the cotton industry and who often remain invisible within the coverlet industry.

Through January, 2018


  • Saturdays and Sundays: By appointment depending on staff availability
  • Closed Monday
  • Tuesday to Friday: Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday Evening 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Summer Hours: (Memorial Day to Labor Day): Tuesday to Sunday Noon to 3 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday 6:30 to 8 p.m.