150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk

A retrospective exploring the often-surprising history of one of the UK’s oldest and most revered applied arts organisations.

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In 1872, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) was founded on two key principles – the first, the preservation of hand embroidery as an art form and the second, the support of women’s independence through work. In the intervening 150 years, the RSN’s journey towards these goals has taken many unexpected forms and featured countless high-profile projects.

150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework will explore this historic organisation’s contribution to the world of embroidery. The exhibition will present collaborations with the great names of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissions produced for the British royal family, contemporary works created for top, international designers and pieces by the RSN’s talented students.

Presenting textiles from the Royal School of Needlework’s own 5,000-piece archive, alongside examples from museums and collections across the UK, this in-depth retrospective will display the often surprising history of one of the UK’s oldest and most revered applied arts organisations.

The exhibition is curated by Dennis Nothdruft, head of exhibitions at the Fashion and Textile Museum, in collaboration with Dr Susan Kay-Williams, chief executive at the Royal School of Needlework.

This exhibition is accompanied by the book An Unbroken Thread: Celebrating 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework by Susan Kay Williams and a selection of RSN-led workshops and drop-in sessions including sessions for the family.

Highlights Tour

Want to know more about the exhibition? Join our Highlights Tours, which run every Wednesday and are led by volunteers.

About the Royal School of Needlework

Founded in 1872, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) is the international centre of excellence for the art of hand embroidery and will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022. Steeped in history with unrivalled expertise in the techniques of hand embroidery, the RSN offers a wide range of courses for all levels, from beginners through to advanced.

Students can choose to study courses online and onsite, including day and evening classes and the Certificate & Diploma in Technical Hand Embroidery. The RSN also teaches BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery and the Future Tutors Programme, which trains tutors for the next generation. The Royal School of Needlework is based at Hampton Court Palace and teaches across the UK and internationally. For more information, visit royal-needlework.org.uk.

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