Tag Archives: Museums

Peru | Textiles and Ceramics

Unlike most U.S. elementary schools at the time, my school taught foreign languages. From fourth through eighth grade (and into high school,) I took Spanish. At some point when I was 11 or 12, we studied the great Central and South American cultures of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca. The Inca, rulers in Peru until the early-1500s, builders of the great city of Machu Picchu, captured my imagination.

In the last few years, Jim and I have known at least four people who traveled to Peru, and specifically to Machu Picchu. Stories of their adventures rekindled my long-held desire to go there. Certainly, for a trek like that, you should go while you’re still physically able. And so we did.

We traveled in a group tour with Overseas Adventure Travel and can’t recommend it highly enough. The group was small, with 14 travelers and our trip leader, Walter. He is an experienced guide with 15 years’ experience leading tours. He has a background as a history professor, and he has authored books on the archeological sites in Peru. We were in good hands.  We’ll have a number of posts about different parts of our trip. This one highlights some of the ancient textiles and ceramics we saw in Lima.

On the first day when our group met Walter, I said that, as a quilter, I’m interested in textiles. He suggested seeing the A Mano textile museum. (Translated from Spanish, “A Mano” means “by hand.”) That afternoon while we had free time, Jim and I set off on foot to find the museum.

Unfortunately, though I had seen the museum on a map and had a pretty good idea of where it was, it wasn’t on the map we had. And we didn’t have a street address for it. We stopped several times to ask for directions, using my best grade school Spanish. At one point we walked all the way around it. But finally we were directed to the correct place.

It was worth the trek. And as it turns out, the name is “Amano Museo Textil PreColombino,” not “A Mano.” The museum is named for Mr. Yoshitaro Amano, a Japanese businessman who founded it in 1964 after settling in Peru.

More than 600 pre-Columbian (pre-1492) textiles are displayed, as well as significant pottery pieces. The textiles in the collection range from around 3,000 years old to more than 500 years old. To preserve the fragile pieces, lighting is quite dim. Information with the items was sometimes lengthy and informative, and other times non-existent. I did not get pictures of the placards, so have little to offer. However, it’s important to note that not all Indian culture in Peru was Incan, even when the Europeans arrived in Peru, so it would be incorrect to say these are all Inca pieces.

Both cotton and wool form the tradition of Peruvian textiles. Cotton was grown all over the world; wool comes from the various camelids but especially alpaca and llama. Much of the weaving and knotting is representative, conveying important people and animals in the society. Other works are more geometric. This delicate netting combines the two. 

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Power Builders 04.10.15

This is Week #10 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Few things are more inspiring than seeing the creativity of others. Today’s post will highlight a few museums to inspire you. 

1) From Craftsy, a list of quilt museums across the U.S. I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few, including the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, NE. “The center houses the world’s largest publicly held quilt collection. The more than 4,500 quilts and related ephemera date from the early 1700s to the present and represent more than 25 countries.” Kalona, IA’s Quilt & Textile Museum is a stone’s throw away from me. And I recently enjoyed a visit to the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. From the site, “The Museum’s vibrant and breathtaking exhibits are rotated 8-10 times per year. The primary gallery, with over 7,000 square feet of exhibit space, features quilts from the Museum’s collection which includes over 320 works of art. The Museum’s additional galleries feature touring and thematic exhibits of unique and diverse works of art.”

The Craftsy post includes links for museum and exhibits in other parts of the country, as well.

2) We’re all familiar with names of huge museums in big cities. Have you ever wondered about smaller gems? Your local university may have one. collegerank.net lists the “50 most amazing college museums.” The University of Iowa is on that list, partly for the world-class African art collection. (Unfortunately, we still don’t have our art housed in town, because the 2008 flood destroyed the museum. All the art escaped safely.) Other worthy museums include those highlighting arts of various periods and origins, geology and natural history, design, archealogy and anthropology, among other subjects. Check the list, check your local colleges and universities. You may be surprised at the wonders you’ll find!


Rusty, the giant sloth in the University of Iowa’s Natural History Museum.

3) From Icarus to Space X, we continue to be fascinated by flight. The age of air and space travel has spawned an enormous amount of art of all kinds. See what some of the fuss is about at museums devoted to the history of flight. The big one, of course, is the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. But don’t limit yourself to it. Across the country you can find other venues, including the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon, the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, NE, and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, in Dover, OH.

4) Quilting is often considered a folk art, but there are other arts in that category. Woodworking, ceramics, metals, textiles, all display the ingenuity of humans to design and create the useful arts. Wikipedia provides a list of 31 folk art museums, including some near you. All entries on the wiki page link to other wiki pages. Dig a little deeper (google them yourself) to find out more.

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.