A richly textured and colorful slice of history will be celebrated with the opening of the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University on Thursday, April 9, at the University Center for the Arts. The newly renamed museum is home to a collection of 12,000 artifacts including historic clothing, lace, textiles, accessories and chairs. A selection of objects representing textiles from around the world spanning more than 100 years of history will be on exhibition to celebrate the opening.
The inaugural exhibition, Window to the World, will open with a free public reception from 7-9 p.m., April 9 at the museum’s new location in the University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington in Room 115. The exhibit will run through Sept. 1.
Window to the World features a representative sampling of the museum’s artifacts from around the world, including Central Asian clothing, richly embroidered and embellished garments from China and Japan, late 19th century American quilts, apparel and textiles from India and 19th century fashionable dress.
The grand opening will honor the Avenir Foundation’s gift of $1.25 million to rename the museum. The gift established the Avenir gallery, museum storage and conservation laboratory as well as endowment funds for exhibitions, the curator and continued conservation of the collection.
"Avenir is a French word for future," said April Mason, dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences. "Future is the core of our mission, because museums typically preserve and honor our past and present so that future generations can appreciate and learn from our history, culture and people."
An inaugural lecture, Material Culture: Window to the World will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 22. The lecture, by Patricia Crews, the Willa Cather Professor of Textiles and director of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be held in Room 136, in the Avenir Museum administrative offices, directly east of the University Center for the Arts.
A workshop on care and handling of vintage clothing and textiles, Behind Closet Doors, will be held from 9:30 – 11 a.m., Saturday, April 11 at the Avenir museum’s administrative offices in Room 136. The hands-on workshop will provide information on the care, display and preservation of family artifacts. While the workshop is free, space is limited so reservations are required by calling (970) 491-1629. The workshop will be followed with a tour of the new facility.
Last fall the collection moved to the University Center for the Arts from the Gifford Building on the main campus. Museum staff have spent months carefully unpacking and rehousing each artifact. The new facility is unique to university collections, with greatly improved accessibility to university students, and a gallery and state-of-the-art storage with museum-standard humidity, temperature and lighting control.
The Avenir museum is one of the few university collections with an added emphasis on international objects, including a collection of 500 kimono and more than 300 textiles from Central and South Asia.
Western artifacts include 19th century men’s and women’s apparel, elaborate fans and hats, beaded flapper dresses, hand-made lace and famous designer apparel. Among the jewels of the collection are designer dresses from the late Mr. Blackwell, Arnold Scaasi, Carolina Herrera and Calvin Klein. It is also home to a lace collection valued at more than $140,000.
A chair collection was established in 2007 and is the beginning of a larger endeavor to include interior artifacts in the museum. The interior design program is a significant part of the Department of Design and Merchandising in the College of Applied Human Sciences. The addition of interior artifacts enhances teaching and exhibitions by illustrating a more complete view of the near environment.
The museum functions with a strong corps of volunteers from the community and Colorado State. Volunteers ensure that the artifacts are correctly stored, and assist in their conservation, cataloging and documentation.
The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising houses one of the most significant, far-ranging teaching collections in the United States. The collection is the one of a few of its kind in the region that allows hands-on access under controlled conditions.
The opening of the Avenir museum completes the newly renovated University Center for the Arts located in the old Fort Collins High School. The UCA houses the university’s School of the Arts which includes the Department of Art and the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. In a single facility, easily accessible to both campus and community, visitors can explore both the visual and performing arts.