From 1 December 2022 to 29 May 2023, the new curtains for the Huis ten Bosch Palace – the residence of King Willem-Alexanders and Queen Máxima – can be seen in the TextielMuseum in Tilburg. Her Majesty Queen Máxima embroiders this new cultural heritage along with more than 150 embroiderers from across the Netherlands. In the exhibition ‘Royal embroidery: stories and crafts’, the new curtains can be seen together with the historical curtains that were the source of inspiration. The exhibition provides an insight into the manufacturing process of this extensive project and shows the wealth of stories that arise when people embroider together.
The exhibition ‘Royal Embroidery: Stories and Craftsmanship’ gives visitors the opportunity to admire the new curtains before they are mounted in the palace’s Chinese hall. The curtains are a contemporary reinterpretation of the original curtains made in the 18th century Canton, which are too fragile and need to be preserved. TextielLab – TextielMuseum’s workshop – machine the new curtains mechanically, after which embroidery enthusiasts from all over the country add embroidery by hand. A comprehensive process to which many hands contribute. The exhibition provides a unique insight into the palace, a behind-the-scenes look at the design and creation process and highlights the craftsmanship, passion and personal stories of the embroidery enthusiasts involved.
New Dutch heritage
The first room reflects the atmosphere of the Chinese hall; In addition to the historic curtains, you will find authentic furniture, fireplace screens and 18th-century tableware. You can zoom in on the highly detailed embroidered scenes on the historic curtains. Various sound fragments take the visitor into the stories behind the Chinese scenery. An audio fragment that highlights a scene of villagers washing clothes in the river, for example, provides insight into the social status, costume, symbolism, and architecture of China at the time. In the next room, visitors discover the new curtains, designed by The Hague designer Liesbeth Stinissen. You can see the Dutch delta, inspired by the Chinese river, depicted on the historic curtains. The meandering delta connects various architectural icons and everyday scenes from the rich Dutch history, some of which also have a special connection to the royal house. Examples are Delta Works in Zeeland, the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam and the Sint Servaas Bridge in Maastricht.
In TextielMuseum – museum and workshop in one – in addition to the end result, there is always attention to the manufacturing process. The exhibition ‘Royal embroidery’ takes the visitor through all stages of the design and production process of the new curtains. In study environments, Liesbeth Stinissen’s research is shown on the basis of design sketches and samples. You can see which design choices have been made by Stinissen and which creative processes have been implemented. A film shows how Stinissen explored the countless possibilities for computer-controlled embroidery in TextielLab together with embroidery expert Frank de Wind and overcame the necessary additional technical challenges. Various tactile samples make it possible to study the embroidery up close.
All Holland embroider
The last room focuses on the craft enthusiasts who contributed to the embroidery. Under the guidance of Brother Anna Bolk, more than 150 participants from various embroidery groups and Her Majesty Queen Máxima participate in the development of the curtains, from an embroidery group from Kollumerzwaag to a group in Middelburg. Through personal embroidery, one can discover stories that lie behind their passion for embroidery – which sometimes goes back generations. In this space, the exhibition shows the connecting role of needlework as a means of meeting, conversing and exchanging knowledge and skills.
The exhibition ‘Royal embroidery: stories and crafts’ is realized thanks to the structural support from the province of Noord-Brabant, Tilburg municipality and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and in collaboration with the Royal House Service.