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Quilts and Textiles

Rags, Rugs and Weavers: A Living Tradition

Click here to see installation photographs of the exhibition.

"This exhibit is of superb quality and has met our needs to support and promote the art of different ethnic backgrounds for our annual Festival of International Cultures.

This exhibit brought an educational opportunity to a relatively rural audience." —Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, MI

The process of weaving rags into useful household items came to Michigan with immigrants from northern Europe. Today, Finnish-Americans in the state's Upper Peninsula continue the tradition, weaving used clothing and other discarded textiles into colorful rugs. Rag rug weaving is a shared cultural activity in these communities. Materials donated by one person may be cut into rags or sewn into strips by another, woven into a rug by still another, and the finished rug purchased by yet another member of the community. Weavers often learn the craft from family members or neighbors, perfecting their techniques by trial and error.

Rags, Rugs and Weavers: A Living Tradition explores this textile tradition through the work of eight accomplished rag rug weavers. Rugs, descriptive panels, sample materials and tools, and photographs illustrate all aspects of rag rug weaving. Viewers follow the process from rag to rug and back to rag and learn how these weavers and others are keeping the tradition alive.

This exhibition is eligible for funding through the Michigan Humanities Council's Arts and Humanities Touring Program. For more information, click here.


No current bookings. This exhibit is available.

This exhibition has been displayed at the following sites: Ella Sharp Museum, Jackson, MI; Finlandia University, Hancock, MI; Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI; Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, MI; Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers, AR; Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI; and Dane G. Hansen Museum, Logan, KS; and the Dane G. Hansen Museum, Logan, KS..

  Rental fee (8-week period): $2,500, plus shipping
  Number of pieces: 25
  Running feet required: 125 to 150 ft.
  Insurance Value: $9,000
  Security requirement: Lockable, limited access display area; experienced or museum-trained persons supervising exhibition during hours open to the public; exhibition area locked during closed hours; provisions to prevent the public from touching objects; experienced object handlers; temperature and light controls; fire protection according to local ordinances
  Additional materials available: Press materials

This exhibition is a Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Traditional Arts Program activity supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Michigan Humanities Council, the Michigan State University Extension Service, and Beatrice and David Meyers.

Photo of a rag rug made by Reino and Hilija Kangas in 1988.

PICTURED: Rag Rug, Reino and Hilija Kangas, Laurium, MI, 1988.





















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