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18th Century Tapestries Exhibit at the Historic Annapolis Museum

May 26, 2012 04:04PM ● By Anonymous

As Remy Agee, Project Chair and President of the Board of Trustees of The Annapolis Tapestries, Inc. describes, this method of “turning words into pictures […] preserves and promotes history.” However, such tapestries are mainly seen in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. Agee was among the invited delegation, who thought, with its 300th Charter anniversary approaching in 2008, creating and displaying heritage tapestries in Annapolis would be idyllic for celebrating Annapolis’ history. Agee and the others returned to Annapolis and a year later, started recruiting project volunteers.

From September 2006 to January 2007, Agee led regular meetings with a group of seven historians, then City Administrator, Bob Agee, and volunteer facilitator, Paulette Francois, to determine the content for all three tapestries. The committee was thorough and devoted to accuracy, spending a year and a half on the historical and technical work. Today, their ongoing work and tapestries completed thus far are on display at the Historic Annapolis Museum.

The showpiece of the current exhibit is the 18th century large panel featuring 44 elements. It took an impressive 3,233 hours to stitch and is on display museum until the end of this year. The experienced hands of dedicated stitchers helped craft the 3’ x 6.5” foot panel. Stitching commenced for the 19th century tapestry in fall 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2013. To satisfy viewers’ curiosities, the 19th century tapestry photo hangs adjacent to the masterful 18th century tapestry proving how bustling Annapolis became within one hundred years. The person responsible for designing the tapestries is artist Gail Bolden. She was recruited by Hollis Minor, Technical Advisor for the Annapolis Tapestries Project. Shortly after moving to Maryland, Bolden learned from Minor needlepoint canvas painting. Almost immediately, Minor realized that Bolden was the ideal person for painting the three large and the thirty-six smaller tapestry canvases.  

When asked if the project has strengthened her knowledge of the city’s early stages, Agee responds, “I have learned a tremendous amount of Annapolis history.” Enthused by the contribution this project has already made for the community, Agee adds, “This is visual storytelling, a powerful way to teach history as residents and visitors alike discover significant, yet lesser-known, people places, events and objects that shaped the City’s development over three centuries.”  

If this seems like an effort you want to have an impact in, you are not alone. Over 450 people from the United States and 11 foreign countries have already contributed to the tapestries project. On the first Sunday of the month, ‘Make History’ events are held at the museum. Stitchers, ages 4 to 98, have had the chance to become a part of this historic project. All stitchers are encouraged to sign a log that will later be digitized so that, for years to come, participants can visit the archive online and see evidence of their role in the historic process.  

Future plans for the tapestries include travel exhibitions to other museums, curriculum for in-school field trips, and a visual storytelling conference of heritage tapestries worldwide. To date, Annapolis Tapestries, Inc. has raised nearly $25,000 through donations and grants but it will need double this amount to finish the endeavor. Toward that end, the group will file a tax-exempt, nonprofit application with the IRS. For more information on the project and volunteer opportunities, visit annapolistapestries.com. For exhibit hours, call 410-267-6656 or visit annapolis.org.