This exhibition marks the US debut of more than 150 examples of lace from the extensive collection of the Textilmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland. It traces the development of lace from its sixteenth-century origins to the present—the first large-scale American exhibition in ten years to tell this story. An introduction addresses needle and bobbin techniques and the skill of female lacemakers who crafted this sought-after status symbol. As garments and portraits demonstrate, handmade lace was a signifier of power and wealth in the courts of Habsburg Spain and Bourbon France until it fell from favor in the wake of the French Revolution. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, lace’s popularity was revived as technology enabled machine-made laces. Contemporary couture closes the exhibition, revealing new innovations in lace production that will shape this global industry’s future.

Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen is organized by Bard Graduate Center and the Textilmuseum St. Gallen. The exhibition will open at Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York in September 2022 and will be available to tour after closing in January 2023. If you would be interested in touring the exhibition to your institution, please fill out this form and the curatorial team will be in touch with more information.