The Textile Museum houses one of the most important collections of textiles in Switzerland. It encompasses historical embroidery, hand-worked lace, textiles from outside of Europe, historical fabrics and costumes from several centuries. Sample books, fashion photos and drawings expand the collection, which illustrates the multifaceted history of the Swiss textile industry, both embedded in the local region and connected internationally.
From 1863 the Kaufmännische Direktorium (Commercial Directorate), a forerunner of the Chamber of Industry and Trade, regularly purchases fabric samples from France, which are meant to serve as a model and inspiration for the regional textile industry. The sample collections are extended by purchases and gifts from important private collections as well as the absorption of company archives.
Today some 56,000 objects are stored in the Textile Museum depots. Besides the conservation and research into the holdings, an important focus of our work is on digitalisation of the collection. The objects are recorded in a database and made publicly accessible in a selection found in the Online Catalogue of the Textile Museum.
For conservational reasons, the historical collections are not available publicly. They can be viewed in the case of proven research to be undertaken, however. Please fill out the application form and send it by mail to the address below.
If you wish to make a gift to the Textile Museum, or if you have questions concerning the collection, please contact:
+41 71 228 00 18
The Textile Museum owns some 5,000 laces from the period spanning the 16th to early 20th century, partially of exquisite quality. The most important inventory from the lace collection comes from the collections of Leopold Iklé and John Jacoby. Laces from the collection of Carolina Maraini-Sommaruga are housed in the Textile Museum as a permanent loan from the federal government.
Hand and machine embroidery
Impressive picture embroidery from the 14th to 16th century come from the Leopold Iklé and John Jacoby collections. Hand-made white embroidery as well as machine embroidered products trace the history of the embroidery industry of Eastern Switzerland in the 19th and 20th century. The objects could be absorbed into the Textile Museum through acceptance of selected company inventory, among other reasons.
A representative inventory of fabrics came to the Textile Museum from the collections of Friedrich Fischbach and the Schweizer Textilfachschule. The fragments tell the story of European silk weaving since the Middle Ages and right up to the 20th century.
Items of clothing and accessories spanning the 18th century to the present day illustrate the use of textiles and textile techniques and tell the history of fashion. To expand our collections, we are looking for women’s and men’s clothing from prominent designer labels, as well as garments that are demonstrably made from Swiss textiles.
The textile samples that were acquired by the Kaufmännische Direktorium from 1863 onwards were gathered together in the 20th century into sample books. Slowly, an impressive collection of these books evolved, which was added to by gifts. An important inventory of sample books came to the museum in 1983 from the estate of the company Fa. Grauer & Co.
Fashion photographs and illustrations
The collection houses photographs of models from St. Gallen machine embroidery and Swiss fabrics from the 1920s to the 1990s. Also, it contains various drawings and illustrations, including the works of the Basel fashion illustrator Walter Niggli, for example.