Museo del Tessuto
The Museo del Tessuto is a Textile Museum just outside of Florence and it is hands down one of the best Textiles Museums I have ever been to. It gives a descriptive history about Textiles in Prato, multiple Exhibitions that change every few months as well as fantastic permanent exhibit about how fabrics are made from natural to synthetic construction, how fabrics are dyed using natural products and how different weaves of fabrics are made. The museum is in Italian and English.
The Museum experience starts in the Boiler Room showing off the long history of Prato Textile Mill then followed by the Historical Textiles Room, this is the oldest space in the building where is displays have a rotation of textiles and costumes from the Museum's Collections. During my trip the exhibit was Whimsy and Reason: Elegance in 18th Century Europe, showing the styles, trends and culture through the use of textiles, fashion and decorative arts.
It went into the details of exoticism in the 18th Century when luxury goods began to arrive from India, China and Japan through the activities of the East India Trading Companies giving the goods to England, France, The Netherlands and Denmark. These luxury goods began to transform the taste of influence throughout the garments opening up to more variety.
In the first part of the 18th Century, the textiles used in garments expressed the French influence style of Rococo, it was a mixture of exotic eccentricity and naturalism all edged with delicate lace. The Mid 18th Century the fashion explored ornamentation of classical art as it was influenced by archaeological discovers across Europe. Towards the end of the 18th Century, the dramatic decorations began to lessen; stripes began to conquer over decorative motifs. A new colour palette of neoclassical began using white, pale pink, teal, light blue and pastel yellow.
This exhibit has a large collection of garments, fabrics, fans, illustrations and decorations in wonderful condition. There where great rare examples of Men's and Women's from lavish Aristocratic Garments at the beginning of the century to the simplicity of the early 19th Century Fashion, you truly got to see a Century of Fashion.
As you say goodbye to this room you walk into The Materials and Processes Area; it is a wonderfully descriptive exhibit about the traditional craftsmanship of textiles to advanced technology that we use to make of futuristic garments of today. You are able to learn through illustrations, feeling the fibres and weaves, what each textile is like allowing you to become familiar with the processes that have been using for centuries. This was one of the most descriptive and wonderful learning experiences I have had on textiles. Further information refer to my blog article.
Upstairs you learn about Prato's Textile History in the Prato City Textile Room. It takes you through the Middle Ages to the 20th Century through the use of records, textiles, tools, machinery and samples of textiles that have been made in Prato, as well as the importance of Wool Production in Prato's long history from its traditional production to when the Textiles Mill closed in the Mid 20th Century. In the Fashion Industry Prato Room it talks about the development of Prato's textile district after World War II to now, how Prato moved away from its traditional wool production to embrace new movements such as Haute Couture and Pret a Porter. You can see the historical importance Prato played in textiles throughout Europe and what a great tribute this museum has become to Prato's Textiles Industry and showing off the best textiles across Italy.
This is one of the best Textile Museums I have been to and is a must for any Costumiers. For updated information on the Museo del Tessuto's exhibitions have a look at their website.
To get to Prato from Florence takes around an hour via Public Transport or Driving. Car: There is paid parking close by to the Museum or around the town itself. Bus: Outside Stazione Leopolda there is a bus stop that will take you close by the museum, the bus is called LAM PO-FI run by Cap Buses. (look for the bus stop sign that say Prato & CAP Buses). Look at the bus front for the destination Prato. Train: You can get the train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Prato Porta Serralgio then it is a 15 minute walk to the Museum. Like all transport do double check online for the best means to get there on the day.