Mutter Museum To Put Woven Hair Art On Display Next Month

Hair art was a popular way of mourning the dead in the 19th century.

A truly hair-raising art exhibit will open next month in Philadelphia.

Starting on Jan. 18, the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia will present “Woven Strands: The Art of Human Hair Work,” an exhibition dedicated to works made from woven hair, a medium rooted in the 19th century.

All the works in the exhibit employ human hair as a textile in four distinctive art and jewelry techniques: palette work, gimp work, table work and dissolved human hair work.

Hair art was most popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and was a way for the artist to express love or mourn the dead.

Hair artisans would use hair from both living and deceased persons to form flower bouquets, wreaths, braided jewelry chains, weeping willows and painted scenes of mourning.

The art works have rarely been displayed in museums as they were intended for home display.

The museum will host the exhibit for six months, and occasionally feature workshops showcasing the long and short of making hair art.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the title of the exhibit.



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