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Kashmir Shawl Exhibit Opens At New Canaan Historical Society

Kashmir shawls are on display through September at the New Canaan Historical Society's Costumes Museum.
Kashmir shawls are on display through September at the New Canaan Historical Society's Costumes Museum. Photo Credit: nchistory.org

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – A new exhibit of Kashmir shawls is on display through September at the New Canaan Historical Society's Costumes Museum.

The shawls shown reflect the preferences of Americans during the Victorian Period. Included in the exhibit are shawls from the first quarter of the 19th century through the end of the century.

Deborah Bede, curator of the collection, has described the shawls and presented a history of the weaving process in preparing for this exhibit.

Since the opening of the museum in 1968, the society has acquired a large Kashmir shawl collection, gifted by New Canaan residents, according to a press release.

The shawls date from the early to late 1800s, a transitional period in New Canaan and the United States. The country was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing replaced agriculture as the primary economic source.

Just before the society was founded in 1889, the town joined the Industrial Revolution with its booming shoe manufacturing industry, according to a press release. This brought greater wealth to the community, and other businesses opened and closed around New Canaan. It was also the era when the summer residents arrived, with them came the fashions of New York,  according to a press release.

The shawls shown would have been worn or decorated the homes of many summer residents, topping pianos, covering beds, and draped over furniture, according to a press release.

The New Canaan Historical Society is at 13 Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan. The exhibit's hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Call 203-966-1776 for more information.

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