The second in the Secret Life of Textiles exhibition series, this installation features works of art made from the most important animal fibers—wool, hair, silk, and feathers—by numerous cultures throughout history and in different regions of the world. The objects on view include fibers from sheep, camelids, goats, yaks, horses, cows, and other small animals; silk filament from cultivated or wild silk worms; and feathers.
The exhibition includes a rich selection of reference materials reflecting the transformation of animal fibers through the use of technology. It also reveals the expertise of conservators in fiber identification using advance microscopy.
Woman's ceremonial robe (detail), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 19th century. China. Silk, cat fur, 53 in. (134.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Duchesse de Richelieu, 1972 (1973.28.6)