Weibel, Adele Coulin, 1880-1963.

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The Textile Department of the Detroit Institute of Arts was created in 1927 by the director, Dr. William R. Valentiner, who wished to establish a textile collection for the new museum building which opened that year on Woodward Avenue. At this time Adele Coulin Weibel was appointed the first Curator of Textiles, a position she held from 1927-1949; she later served as Curator Emeritus of Textiles and Near Eastern Art until 1963. It is her records, and those of Francis Waring Robinson, Curator of Medieval Art in Charge of Textiles, 1963-71, that form the Textile Department records. Adele Coulin Weibel (1880-1963) was born in Lucerne, Switzerland. She received her education in Europe and the United States between 1900-1922. Her original area of study was in geology and pre-history at Zurich. From 1912-1914, she lived in Fiesole, Italy, as secretary to Lady Sybil Cutting. At this time she also studied the art of ancient Greece under Gilbert Murray. In 1915, Adele Weibel came to the United States to study in New York. She remained there until 1919 as a humanities tutor to the children of the Vanderbilt family. At this time she met Rudolf Riefstahl, Professor of Mohammedan Art at New York University, who encouraged her to specialize in the textile arts. She was also a lecturer in art history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she met Mr. Valentiner. In 1921 she returned to finish her art historical studies with Arthur Wesse at Berne, and with Professor Joseph Strygowski at the University of Vienna. She returned to the United States as his assistant at Harvard University, where he was a visiting lecturer. In 1922 she returned to New York, where she worked in a private capacity until 1924, when she came to Detroit. Here she was the director of the Needle and Loom Guild until 1926. The Guild was associated with the Detroit League for the Handicapped and the Junior League of Detroit, and sponsored immigrant women's needlework projects. From 1927-1963, she held several curatorial positions at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Along with the title of Curator if Textiles in 1927, she acquired the duties of Curator in Charge of Pre-Columbian and American Indian Antiquities and Pre-Historic Art. She became Acting Curator of Islamic Art after Professor Mehmet Aga-Oglu left the museum in 1932. Although the Arts Commission was forced to lay off Adele Weibel due to lack of funds, she was reappointed to her position in 1934. She was also promoted to Associate Curator of European Art, a position held previously by Walter Heil. She achieved a noted reputation as a textile historian through her vast knowledge of the field and her associations with museums and textile collections throughout the United States and Europe. With the assistance of Francis Robinson, she continued her work on the textile collection after her retirement in 1949, and remained a vital part of the museum staff until her death in 1963. Adele Weibel also taught and wrote extensively on art history and the textile arts. She was both a lecturer and educator in art history at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and museums throughout the United States. She taught locally at the Detroit Teachers College and at Wayne State University from 1928-1933. With her retirement, she began her greatest accomplishment, the book, Two Thousand Years of Textiles: The Figured Textiles of Europe and The Near East, funded through the Kresge Foundation and published by Pantheon Press in 1952 in association with the Detroit Institute of Arts. This book was the first history of textiles to appear in English, and the first major textile publication since Otto von Falke's book in 1913, Kunstgeschichte der Seidenweberei. In 1955 she was recognized as an honorary member of the International Center for the Study of Ancient Textiles at the Musee Historique des Tissus, Lyon, France. From 1955-1963 she was writing a complementary study to her book, entitled "The History of Embroidery," which was never published.

From the description of The Textile Department records, 1876-1973 (1927-1970). 1876-1973 (1927-1970) (Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives). WorldCat record id: 422759837

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Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Weibel, Adele Coulin, 1880-1963. The Textile Department records, 1876-1973 (1927-1970). Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives, DIA Research Library & Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aga-Oglu, Mehmet, 1896- person
associatedWith Booth, George G. (George Gough), 1864-1949. person
associatedWith Burroughs, Clyde H., 1882-1973. person
associatedWith Detroit Institute of Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Duveen Brothers. corporateBody
associatedWith Ford, Edsel, 1893-1943. person
associatedWith Hispanic Society of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Kresge Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Moser, Liselotte. person
correspondedWith Robinson, Francis W. (Francis Waring) person
associatedWith Tannahill, Robert Hudson. person
associatedWith Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold, 1880-1958. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Lace and lace making
Museum curators
Textile research
Textile fabrics


Birth 1880

Death 1963

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