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Dr Jon Thompson to receive George Hewitt Myers Award
Jul '08
Award Recognizes His Exceptional Contributions to the Field of Textile Arts

The Textile Museum announced that Dr. Jon Thompson, one of the foremost scholars in the field of Oriental carpets, has been chosen as the 2008 recipient of the Museum's George Hewitt Myers Award, the highest honor given in the field of textile arts.

The Myers Award, named for The Textile Museum's founder & given by the Museum's Board of Trustees, recognizes Thompson's lifetime achievement and exceptional contributions to the study and understanding of the textile arts. He will be honored with the award at a Tribute Dinner on Thursday, October 16 in Washington, D.C. “Jon Thompson's scholarship has significantly influenced the field of Oriental carpets,” said Bruce P. Baganz, president of the Museum's Board of Trustees.

“Through publications, exhibitions and lectures, Thompson has progressed the appreciation of carpets and textiles as works of art and expressions of culture, values closely aligned with The Textile Museum's mission and the legacy of our founder, George Hewitt Myers.”

About Jon Thompson
Thompson became interested in carpets and textiles while practicing medicine in London. His interest in the study of rugs and resulting publications earned the attention of Louise Mackie, then curator at The Textile Museum. Mackie invited Thompson to work with her on an exhibition of Turkmen rugs, which opened at The Textile Museum in 1980.

The exhibition was highly influential in the recognition and appreciation of Turkmen rugs and textiles, and generated collecting interests in this area that still exist today. The exhibition was accompanied by a landmark volume, Turkmen Tribal Carpets and Tradition, coauthored by Jon Thompson and Louise Mackie and published by The Textile Museum.

What began as a private interest became a second career and, from 2001 to 2007, Thompson held the position of May Beattie Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Khalili Research Centre, at the University of Oxford. In this capacity, he directed the Beattie Carpet Archive, working towards the establishment of a database of images and notes on carpets made by May Hamilton Beattie (1908-1996) in order to make her research available to scholars. His work also involved teaching courses on carpets and textiles of the Islamic world at Oxford University and at the British Museum. Though now retired from Oxford, Thompson continues to teach in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Thompson's recent projects include a study of regional variations in the content of sulphur isotopes in wool, for the purpose of seeing whether it is possible to establish the geographical source of the wool in a carpet. This in turn would help in identifying the carpet's provenance. Another interest of his has been the study of carpet weaving in the 15th century. Thompson's ideas on the subject were published in his 2006 volume Milestones in the History of Carpets (Moshe Tabibnia, Milan), which was also published in Italian.

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