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Textile Collection

Over 20,000 textiles from across the world, dating from the third century AD to the present

Textile Collection

Textiles have been been a major part of the Whitworth’s collection since the gallery first opened

Our textile holdings are acknowledged as internationally important and their presence here reflect both Manchester’s significance in the history of world textiles and the gallery’s early industrial links. Today, as evidence of the global trade in textiles that built the city’s wealth and reputation during the Industrial Revolution, the Whitworth is home to around 20,000 dress and textile objects from across the world.  They range in date from the third century AD to the present.

Highlights include textile fragments and garments used and worn in first millennium Egypt (c. 300-900 AD), Mediterranean and Islamic embroideries, South Asian fabrics, French and Italian silks, the work of William Morris and other designers associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, and artist-designed textiles.

We have actively collected modern and contemporary textiles since the gallery first opened, acquiring both art and industrial design, with mass-produced printed and woven lengths complemented by a growing body of one-off art textiles – making visible the link between both the Whitworth’s fine art collections and historic world textiles.

While many of our exhibitions are made up from works in our permanent collection, the Whitworth has nothing on permanent display. Discover our textiles for yourself. Search our collection, see what’s on at the gallery or find out more about the history of the Whitworth.


Tulip, 1875 William Morris Morris and Company Block printing