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Museum Databases

I’m compiling a list of museums with useful online catalogs. Many institutions have websites with a few pictures, but some have put significant numbers of objects on line, with detailed descriptions and high-resolution photographs. Those are the ones I’m interested in. I will be adding museums to this list as I go, and welcome suggestions for others. Institutions with textile holdings are of course the most interesting, but any can be added to the list.

  • Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia. Paintings, Sculpture, Machinery and mechanisms, Arms and armour, Furniture and carriages, Ceramics and porcelain, Applied arts, Jewellery, Textiles, Numismatics and glyptics, Costume, Archaeological artifacts
    Textiles: lots of tapestries, some lace, embroidery (lots of 18-19th c., some earlier), tassels and fringe (17-19th)
  • Victoria and Albert, London, England. One of the better online collections, with many items, good organization, and lots of detail.
  • British Museum, London, England

    Highlights only – 4000 items, organized by culture, place, material

  • Swedish Historical Museum (Historiska Museet), Stockholm, Sweden
    Tremendous resource for Scandinavian artifacts – lots of Viking and medieval data. Search is in Swedish. There’s a Google translate button to help you get started. If you click on “FöremÃ¥l”, you are taken to a search page that also provides complete lists of search words for different categories (item, material, etc).
  • Swedish National Museum (Nationalmuseum), Stockholm, Sweden.
  • National Museum of Ireland
    I hope they add more – not a lot of textiles included.
  • National Gallery of Australia
    Asian textiles especially. Good Indonesian collection, but the search function is awful.
  • Textile Museum of Canada
    Nice browse functions. Search for “card woven” instead of “tablet woven.”
  • The Textile Museum
    Can browse current and past exhibitions, highlights; as yet no general search function.

  • National Museum of Denmark
    Great, zoomable photos of various exhibits.
  • Bibliographica Textilia Historiae database indexes books, articles, royal decrees, and all sorts of other works on the history of textiles from the late 15th century onward.
  • An Atlas of Medieval Combs from Northern Europe,” by Steven P. Ashby, is not a searchable textile database, I admit, but I found it a useful reference. If I come across enough resources of this sort I’ll give them their own page.
  • The Rijksmuseum has a searchable online database with some textile content (and many other pretty things).
  • Ditto for the US National Gallery of Art.

  • Katrin Kania sent me a few resources:

  • The Fitzwilliam Museum has primarily Egyptian textiles.
  • Institut fur mittelalterliche Realienkunde – search for “Textilie” in “Materielle Objekte”.
  • Royal Institute for the Artistic Heritage of Belgium

If you have suggestions, please leave a comment here or email me at the contact address in the sidebar.