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Weaving History: A Basket Heritage Project

Extended through December 16, 2007
Main Gallery

Image of Weaving History: A Basket Heritage Project ExhibitOne of humankind's oldest crafts is basket weaving and, in North America, archaeological evidence indicates that basketmaking was likely practiced in the New World before the close of the last Ice Age. Waves of immigrants into the United States brought with them their weaving traditions and today, thousands of individuals employ traditional and contemporary materials and techniques to create baskets of many forms and functions.

In many regions of the country, hundreds of weavers are part of basketmaking organizations that provide a variety of teaching, learning, sharing, and socialization opportunities for their members.

"Weaving History: A Basket Heritage Project" documents the efforts of one such organization to preserve its history. The 1,800-plus member Association of Michigan Basketmakers, in partnership with the Michigan State University Museum, has recorded interviews with basket teachers and other weavers who have been influential in continuing the basketmaking traditions of the Great Lakes regions. The association has also assembled a collection of exemplary baskets by those influential individuals, samples of weaving materials, photographs of their baskets, catalogs (records) of their annual conventions, and related ephemera. The exhibition showcases over 160 baskets accompanied by samples of the documentation and is intended to serve as a catalyst and model for other weavers' groups to preserve their histories.

A range of educational activities will be held in tandem with the exhibition and a publication and resource website will be launched at the opening. A smaller version of the exhibition will be available for travel to other sites. The project was funded by grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and Association of Michigan Basketmakers with in-kind support from individual makers and Michigan State University Museum.