The American Museum of Straw Art shall exist to foster an understanding of the straw arts in all of its complexities, through various exhibitions of its cultural significance, folklore, history, technique, and shall, therefore, act as an agent of research, preservation and education to insure the survival and continuation of this artistic medium. The museum shall further acquire international examples of straw art that are in keeping with these values. Culture shall remain a key ingredient of the collection and the museum shall create, on a continuing basis, programs that show the straw arts in the context of the peoples who created them.
In 1984 at a conference on the straw arts a concept was born to create a center to preserve and promote the history, technique and folklore of straw craft. By the end of that year it was decided that a museum should be eventually established to create an exhibition space to showcase the straw arts. Additionally, it would house a library of information and research into the history, culture and folklore connected with some aspects of this art medium.
Prior to 1987 the general scope of interest for the project had been in the specific area of wheat weaving or straw plait and its relationship to various cultures that created this work which was connected historically to harvest customs.
Also by 1987 a regiment of programs had been established to educate the public about both the culture, folklore and techniques related to this field of interest. From the period of 1984 to 1994 an estimated 15,000 children and adults participated in some aspects of these programs on the straw arts.
After 1987 the museum organization began to increase its knowledge and interest in a deeper understanding of what might be meant by the "straw arts". As a result, by 1992 it became clear that a larger category had begun to immerge. An ever increasing selection of categories would make it more difficult to confine the definition into a few exhibition divisions. As a result, five major categories were determined to be the essential core of exhibition pieces that would form the future museum. Straw Hats and Bonnets; Woven Straw Elements; Straw Applique; Swiss Straw Lace; and Coiled Straw Technique were to become the cornerstones of an exhibition collection that would serve as a priority role of the museum activity.
Beginning in as early as 1984 the future museum organization began its ten year acquisition of exhibition objects that were to become the basis of the museum collection as it was known at the opening of its facilities in Long Beach, California. Objects dating from as early as the 18th century were obtained in an effort to showcase both the five categories of straw art as well as the culture that created them. The culmination of this ten year collection period, along with ten years of research and program operations, were to be supported in the 1994 opening of the American Museum of Straw Art in downtown Long Beach, California.
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