I’m always on the hunt for a unique museum, no matter where I go and the Silk Art Museum in Weston, MO fits the bill!
Small towns are usually treasure troves for unexpected collections. Take Hutchinson, KS for example. This tiny town houses the world’s premiere collection of space artifacts (including actual moon rocks and the Liberty Bell 7) with extensive detail. In Hutchinson. Right?!
So when I heard that the largest collection of silk art tapestry was sitting in what used to be the Bank of Weston building in historic downtown, I was game.
One brief drive later, my road trip buddy and I found ourselves in Weston. Population: 1,808. A small town with a collection I was itching to see.
What is silk art?
From the museum’s website…
“Silk tapestries are the art form of weaving silk textiles producing pictures and images. Structurally tapestry is composed of thousands of small rice shaped dots of color. These dots are created every time a weft travels across one warp and can be made either more blended or diverse by controlling of each dot; i.e., the spun silk itself and/or the weft bundle.
This is optical blending at its best; the physical mixing of silk of different colors that are then perceived by the eye as one color. This phenomena is what pointillism and divisionism utilized. Silk tapestries have remained popular because of their three-dimensional characteristics and intricate weaving. They are truly timeless works of art.”
No kidding. The museum has a collection of 500 masterworks of French and English silk tapestries that are hundreds of years old. They are breathtaking. Especially when you take into consideration that one piece would take years to weave.
How was silk art produced?
Silk art was essentially a computer program centuries before the IBM machine arrived on scene.
The Jacquard loom (invented by Joseph-Marie-Jacquard) used a system of long punch cards that would “tell” the loom how to weave the pattern. If this sounds familiar to you history nerds, it’s because this partially inspired Charles Babbage and his development of a calculating machine using punch cards. Then, in 1939, IBM’s Harvard Mark I came on to the scene, paving the way for the computers we know today.
Folks, if you’ve ever wanted an argument for why art should be taught in schools, this is it.
What will I see at the Silk Art Museum?
500+ tapestries may seem overwhelming, but the museum is well-organized into three different galleries allowing the attendee to take it all in.
My personal favorites were any and all things color. Since only black and white (with threads woven together to get various gray shades) could be utilized, watercolor paint was used to add color. It’s eye catching and utterly beautiful.
Not to mention, demonstrations are frequently done and a treat to watch. I recorded it all in my Weston vlog below for your viewing pleasure.
If you plan on visiting the Silk Art Museum...
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*Masks are required to enter, and the large hallways and spaced galleries make it very easy to socially distance, making this an excellent covid-friendly trip!
Pin the Weston Silk Art Museum for later!