A $5 million gift from the Avenir Foundation will provide state-of-the-art conservation equipment and technology to enhance long-term care for the 20,000-piece Textile Museum collection at the George Washington University. In recognition of the foundation’s generous contribution, the university announced it will name the museum’s collections storage and conservation facility the Avenir Foundation Conservation and Collections Resource Center.
The museum created one of the first textile conservation programs in the United States in the early 1940s, and this gift will help continue this pioneering work. The gift will enable the museum to purchase updated equipment for the care and study of its collections, including a specialized vacuum cleaner for gently cleaning textiles, and a high-powered microscope for analyzing weave structures of particular pieces. The gift also creates an endowment that will fund conservation staff, training for conservators, and operational costs for the conservation lab.
“This significant gift from the Avenir Foundation helps us continue our work to ensure the long-term conservation of historical textiles,” said John Wetenhall, director of the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. “The textiles in our collections highlight the stories of diverse populations around the world. We are committed to preserving these textiles as we continue to showcase one of the world’s premiere collections of textiles.”
The gift is among the largest to the museum, which opened in a new building on the university’s Foggy Bottom campus in 2015. The museum’s Avenir Foundation Conservation and Collections Resource Center is located at GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. In addition to providing collections care, the center is part of the museum’s commitment to engage the GW academic community in collaboration and research.
The first installment of the gift from the Avenir Foundation, received in 2014, enabled the museum to purchase custom storage cabinetry for its collections. The 2014 gift also increased the endowment for the Margaret Wing Dodge Chair of Conservation, established by the foundation in 1997 at The Textile Museum.
In March, the foundation finalized its $5 million commitment with a gift of $2.19 million, which will be used to establish the Avenir Foundation Endowment for Textile Museum Conservation. The endowment fund will support the work of conservators, fellows and interns. The gift will also underwrite the purchase of equipment for textile conservation, analysis, collections management and photography.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Avenir Foundation has been a supporter of the museum since 1994.