Campus Couture: Celebrating the Ruth Funk Center’s First Decade

The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts opened in August 2009. In the last 10 years, the museum has hosted over 30 exhibitions from artists and collections around the world. Here, we highlight a few of the center’s most stunning works as we travel through the years and across the globe within the walls of this campus treasure. 

A Decade of Textile Crafts

Ruth E. Funk, a designer and collector of contemporary, ethnic and historic textiles, made the free-standing campus textiles center possible. The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts opened its doors 10 years ago and embraces a commitment to cultural exchange, education and connecting people to the communicative power of textiles. The center preserves a global collection and presents exhibitions and programs designed to offer experiential learning and discovery in a nontraditional environment.


As a familiar, yet dynamic medium, textiles reflect distinctive connections we share and express within society. Exhibitions fall within six categories:

Icon designs generously created by Arcos Prints


As an academic museum, the center’s exhibitions are designed to foster inclusive dialogue of global significance. The map icon represents the origin of the artist, subject matter and/or materials on view.

2009 – Coat Couture: Inspiration to Creation

The inaugural exhibition featured the coats of the museum’s namesake, Ruth Funk. Her creations are characterized by a mixture of recycled fabric with contemporary cloth and found embellishments.

Image: Ruth Funk, Square-cut Jacket, USA, c. 1993. Cotton denim, Panamanian molas, Mexican milagros (animal charms), Mexican belts, Colombian appliqué panels, German skirt fabric, Hmong panels. Gift of Ruth Funk, 2010.09.21.

2010 – Fabric of Life: Textiles of Latin America

With examples from Mexico to Peru, this exhibition illustrated stunningly complex and colorful textile genres created throughout Latin America’s diverse historic and cultural landscape.

Image: Panel (mola), Kuna Peoples, Panama, San Blas Islands, c. mid-20th century. Cotton, plain woven, appliquéd, embroidered. Gift of Ruth E. Funk, 2009.7.6a.

2011 – Little Black Dress: Selections From The Costume Museum Of Canada

This popular exhibition was the museum’s first showcase of fashion history.

Image: Installation view of “Little Black Dress.” Courtesy of the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts.

2012 – Traditional Textiles of India

Co-curated with the NEA award-winning Asian Cultural Association of Central Florida, this exhibition featured vibrant textiles from regions across India.

Image: Shawl (phulkari), Punjab, India, c. early 20th century. Cotton, plain woven, satin stitch embroidered. Gift of Ruth Funk, 2004.01.28.

2013 – Redress: Upcycled Style By Nancy Judd

An “anti-fashion, fashion” exhibition featuring garments made of recycled materials, this was the museum’s most popular exhibit to date.

Image: Nancy Judd, “Crime Scene,” 2011. Police tape and ripped bed sheets. Photo by Jay Sturdevant.

2014 – Embellished: A Celebration of Wearable Art

Art to wear, conceptual sculpture, accessories and jewelry were all included in this celebratory exhibition commemorating the center’s fifth anniversary.

Image: Marina Dempster, “Ebullient,” 2008. Found shoe, cera de campeche (beeswax/pine resin), glass and metallic seed beads, Scarlet Macaw feathers (Toronto Zoo collections).

2015 – Light and Shadow: Contemporary Fiber Art By Hye Shin

In this exhibition, the center presented contemporary wall hangings, embroidery and its first sculptural installations. Several of Shin’s works were purchased and are now installed in Evans Library’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

Image: Hye Shin, Embrace I, 2014. Wire, digital printed silk, mixed media. Photo courtesy of the artist.

2016 – Radical Elements

In this science-themed exhibition, organized by the international Studio Art Quilt Associates, artists were asked to create work inspired by an element from the periodic table.

Image: Diane Melms, “Chromium.” 100 miniature stretched canvas panels, chromeplated nuts, painted canvas panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.

2017 – Traditional Arts of the Bedouin

Focusing on the traditional designs and skills of Saudi Arabia’s Bedouin nomads, this exhibition featured an interactive tent constructed in the gallery. The center continues to use interactive experiences and activities to educate and engage.

Image: Choker; silver and blue glass beads; Courtesy of Nance Collection, McClure Archives and University Museum, University of Central Missouri and ExhibitsUSA.

2018 – Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints

For this showcase of West African culture, the center expanded a traveling exhibition to more than double its original content and uniquely designed its gallery space to showcase nearly 150 textiles.

Image: “Dress Form King’s Chair,” pattern introduced 1980. Vlisco Wax Block. Courtesy of the Beatrice Benson Collection and ExhibitsUSA.

2019 – Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America

This exhibition visually chronicled the history of American basketry, displaying more than 90 baskets and contemporary sculptures.

Image: Kate Anderson, “Lichtenstein Teapot/ Girl with Ribbon,” 2005. Waxed linen thread, stainless steel. Photography by Joe Johnson and courtesy of the National Basketry Organization.

Did You Know?

The center won the Silver Award in the Southeastern Museums Conference Under $25,000 category for its 2019 exhibition “Designed to Mobilize: Propaganda Kimono 1920-1945.”

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