Martha’s Vineyard Museum exhibits 17th century textiles

Last Saturday, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum opened When This You See, Remember Me: Samples from the Museum Collections.

An exhibit opening lecture, led by chief curator Bonnie Stacy and assisted by show curator Anna Carringer, focused on the importance of textiles on the Island in the late 18th to early 20th century. Textiles were some of the most valuable possessions that a family had, because of how long they took to make and the quality of the materials. At that time, it was one of the most important skills a young girl could learn.

The exhibit highlights clothing, bedding, diaries, needlework, and embroidery, as well as individuals such as Nancy Michael, a former Island slave, and the Adams sisters, two Chilmark residents who were barely over four feet tall and were in show business with Tom Thumb. The exhibit showcases a blanket of Nancy Michael’s and dresses of the Adams sisters.

Among the textiles are salvaged materials from the Port Hunter, a British ship that was rammed by a tugboat off of West Chop in 1918 en route to taking supplies to war. Before officials could get to the wreck, local fishermen stole materials that later turned up made into leggings and blankets.

The exhibit will be on display until March 26, 2011. Admission is $7; free for members. For more information, visit mvmuseum.org or call 508-627-4441.