Woven In Time: Kashmir Shawls at the New Canaan Historical Society

A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is opening at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Costumes Museum. The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans during the Victorian Period. Included in the exhibit are shawls from the 1st quarter of the 19th century through the end of the century. All shawls and costumes are from the Society’s collection.


Deborah Bede, curator of the collection, has described the shawls and presented a history of the weaving process in preparing for this exhibit. Since the opening of the museum in 1968, the Society has acquired a large Kashmir shawl collection, gifted by New Canaan residents. The shawls date from the early to late 1800s, a transitional period in New Canaan and the United States. The country was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing replaced agriculture as the primary economic source.

Just before the Historical Society was founded in 1889, the Town joined the Industrial Revolution with its booming shoe manufacturing industry, bringing with it greater wealth to the community.

It was also the era when the summer residents arrived, with them came the fashions of New York. They built homes, employed local residents and patronized local stores. The shawls shown would have been worn or decorated the homes of many summer residents, topping pianos, covering beds, and draped over furniture. Models display how the shawls would have been worn during this time.

All items shown are generous donations of members present and past. Exhibit hours are 10:00am-4:00pm Tuesday – Friday and 9:30am-12:00pm Saturday. The New Canaan Historical Society is located on 13 Oenoke Ridge in New Canaan. For more information 203-966-1776 or http://www.nchistory.org.

For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

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