Hooked rugs are an Anglo-American tradition that rose in popularity during the early nineteenth century
The “Unraveling Stories” Exhibit at the Hagley Museum spotlights one of these pieces, a huge hooked rug made during the 1940s by Nancy Dupont Reynolds Cooch.
History Matters: Unraveling Stories at Hagley Museum
Delaware Public Media heads to Hagley Museum to investigate a one-of-a-kind rug.
It’s possibly the only hooked rug that is made of 100 percent nylon.
According to Joan Hoge-North, Director of Museum Services at Hagley, the rug’s creation was part of a DuPont Co. process called “wear-testing,”
"Once they moved out the explosives era, which was the first 100 years, and started moving into different products, that actually developed out of the explosives, they had to test things. Just like any scientific process you test them," said Hoge-North. "Well, they used their family to test the products."
So Mrs. Cooch was tasked with discovering whether or not nylon would be a good fit for floor covering. And being an artist herself, she created a narrative rug full of images important to the Dupont family and the First State.
The exhibit marks a curatorial change for the institution by only spotlighting one object. By focusing on one historical object, Hoge-North says the museum hopes people will really slow down and pay deep attention.
"We really want people to take a breathe, and to look and to find out what they see. And then to realize that every person, every object, every situation, should be looked at from multiple perspectives in order to really understand it," said Hoge-North.
The rug will be on display at Hagley until late July.
History Matters digs into the archives of the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Public Archives, Hagley Museum, and Lewes Historical Society archives each month to explore connections between key people, places, and events in history and present-day news.