Weaving History

A Photography Exhibit of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum

by Eliakim Hawi

I chose this title with the word weaving because for me, it ties together the work at the museum with the imagery of the beautiful weaving that my grandmother and so many others in my village used to do. The baskets my grandmother wove were made from sisal and Papyrus plants. When mothers returned home with a basket on their heads, it could only mean one thing, ‘good news’. In there would be food, clothes, books and pens. The sight of the woven baskets always filled me with hope.

When I first stepped into this museum, Dianne had just dropped me on my first day at work and I didn’t know what to expect. The moment I saw that huge wooden door even before stepping in, I knew I could see a story in it.

I had my museum tour later that morning and learnt about the history of the woolen textile industry in the Mississippi River Valley, and the effects it had on the social, cultural and industrial development of the region. I learnt of how the Mill created employment and built a strong community for people in Almonte. By the turn of the 19th century, there were 10 woolen mills in Almonte.

The Rosamond Woolen Company Mill, where we currently have the Museum, was the largest mill, employing just over 400 people. Approximately 1,600 of Almonte’s 3,000 residents worked in a textile mill. I learnt that no matter where you are from in this world, textiles have played an important part in the development of culture and livelihoods. They have a rich history and I’m excited to share a part of that with everyone.

My exhibition will cover some collections at the museum and touch on the history of the museum.

Eliakim Hawi

Eliakim Hawi Profile

My name is Eliakim Hawi, and I am deeply passionate about preserving and sharing cultural heritage. Growing up in a rural community in Kenya, I watched as shifts in technology made some elements of our culture quietly become obsolete. As a passionate photographer, I began to document some of these artifacts in the hopes of one day creating a digital repository of images and stories about our culture.

I had the opportunity to build on my knowledge and skills throughout my six years of work with Digital Divide Data (DDD), A global social enterprise that supports a variety of digitization projects, from legal or newspaper records to entire museum collections.

The project I am most proud of from my six years with DDD was one I completed in partnership with Amazon Web Services and Intel to digitize one of the largest collections of Archeology and Palaeontology in the world, at the National Museums of Kenya. I’m also very proud to have worked with the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum to photograph collections and items of historical significance for inclusion in the Library’s digital local history collection.

Former Annex and Warehouse

A remarkable example of 1860’s stone construction in Mississippi Mills, the museum is housed in the former annex and warehouse of the Rosamond Woolen Company.

Inside These Walls

Most of the interior of the building has been preserved and has remained unchanged since becoming home to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in 1987. This includes the President’s Office and the remnants of the loading elevator.

Upstairs and on Display

The second floor of the warehouse has become the permanent exhibition space for the museum, but also houses a weaving space for volunteers to come in and practice their craft.