several women talking together in an art gallery with quilts hung on the walls

Showing Your Work: a museum experience

February 19, 2014

Photo: L to R, Sandy Snowden, the Bracknell Mayor, Jane Glennie

One lovely reader, Sandy Snowden from England, shared her experience with getting work into a museum and graciously allowed me to share with you! Here is what she wrote:

Showing in a museum… we sort of fell into this. I was with EquilArteral, a small group and we started looking at the idea of exhibiting.  We gave our name and details for entering a sort of open community exhibition at a small museum in a nearby city. We were declined. But then they got a new museum curator who found that the community exhibition was booked for the next year, but no one had been invited!  So, our details came up and she invited us.


Destricted by Sandy Snowden

Then, while there, we got really excited about the eclectic collection in the museum – things connected with the history of that city. So, we spoke to them about the idea of our larger textile art group doing a challenge inspired by items in the museum (this expanded to things about the city) They thought it was a great idea! We also offered to do workshops – which ticked their education boxes, etc.


Slough Town by Annie Hamilton

So to make a long story short, from that, our group and the museum were awarded the London 2012 Cultural Olympics Inspire mark! The mayor of the town where we meet came to the opening. Also another gallery owner who came to see the work invited us to show it in her gallery – actually in our own town.


Embrocations 1-5 by Jane Glennie

So, I don’t know if you have small eclectic museums near you, but you could approach them with the idea of making work inspired by their collection. or if your work has a theme that would fit – say a museum about music and your work with the musical instruments. On a larger scale, the V+A has similar opportunities to make work inspired by the items in the museum. I don’t know anything about how this would work in larger museums in America, though.


Some items could actually be displayed near the items, ours actually had a gallery, but they did discuss the idea of displays with the artefact. Some of the problems with that would be that your materials would have to be vetted for any off gassing or  affects which would result in harming the artifacts. 


Taplow Vase Reconstruction by Margaret Ramsay

Unfortunately, the museum has had funding cut because of the credit crunch, so have had to move to a part of the library, so no gallery, or we would do more with them. (Actually, I have had a small display of work in my local library. the larger library in town has some opportunity for this as well, but are more inclined for groups strongly connected with our town rather than individuals.)


Flat Irons (Grandad’s Kitchen) by Christine Restall

Anyway, even though it was a very small museum, now we have ‘shown work in a museum’ on our CV. Looks good to those who are impressed by those things when you want to aim for something further. You can read the Artist Statements here.


L to R, Sandy Snowden, the Bracknell Mayor, Jane Glennie


Another outcome was that there was a schools/museum liaison person (before funding cuts) who worked with Langley Academy who have a specific museums focus. Some of the work was displayed at the school in glass cabinets. the art students did a term based on the concept of being inspired by museum artefacts and our work was a main focus for their study. The blog gave them opportunity to see how other artists developed ideas. Our ‘exhibitions officer’ also had opportunities for speaking in schools.

We also exhibited the work at the National Needlework Archive (which again is not anything remarkable if you know it! but if you don’t, well, it sounds impressive!)

Most of the images of the exhibition were taken by Jane Glennie ‘exhibitions officer’. Both the blog and the website were built by her.  Somehow we start simple and the world of opportunities fall into our lap! Sort of another step on the ladder. and we still don’t feel like we are anything particularly amazing. 😉 We just started out as mostly Contemporary Quilters who wanted to think outside the box. There are back stories of the work and design development on the project blog.

The group has an exhibition called Halfway Between in one of the gallery spaces in the Spring Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia in London next month.

All the best,


Other essays in this series

Showing Your Work

Showing Your Work: motivation

Showing Your Work: choose your audience

Showing Your Work: choosing venues

Showing Your Work: fine craft shows

Showing Your Work: traveling trunk show

Showing Your Work: a museum experience

Showing Your Work: local venues

Showing Your Work: photographing your art

Showing Your Work: organizing entries

Showing Your Work: judged vs. juried

Showing Your Work: the jury process

Showing Your Work: rejection

Showing Your Work: more about rejection

Showing Your Work: shipping your artwork


  • Reply
    February 28, 2014 at 12:18 am

    That is a wonderful story!

  • Reply
    February 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Sandy – thank you for sharing your experience with working with a museum.
    Lyric – thank you for sharing these posts about exhibiting.
    As fiber artists, we need to get our artwork out into the world. It’s good to hear that other venues besides quilt shows are willing to display fiber art.


  • Reply
    Sandy Snowden
    February 19, 2014 at 6:56 am

    I hope your readers are encouraged to just have a go. But it is really fun to use a museum collection as inspiration.

    And Thanks for the extra publicity.


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