To Dye For

9 April 2022 till 13 November 2022

Textiles come in every colour imaginable. But have you ever wondered what makes your favourite jeans blue? Discover the world of textile dyeing in the exhibition ‘To Dye For’: from the origin of dyes and the stories behind them to their impact on people and the environment.

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About the exhibition

Yellow, blue and red form the starting point of ‘To Dye For’, which features work by artists and (fashion) designers such as Claudy Jongstra, Antonio José Guzman & Iva Jankovic, Nienke Hoogvliet, Aboubakar Fofana and Nan Groot Antink. Spanning centuries and continents, the exhibition provides a glimpse of the beauty and dilemmas of colour in textiles. Learn about the challenges that artisans, artists, designers and scientists have faced over the years as well as the creative solutions they have found. Discover which plants can be used for dyeing in the museum’s Dye Plant Garden. And play the family game that lets you touch, smell and even taste the colours!


Archaeological find inspires new work by Claudy Jongstra

Artist Claudy Jongstra is recognised around the world for her plant-dyeing expertise. She uses nature’s colour palette in her distinctive felted woollen installations and tapestries. Specially for this exhibition, Jongstra developed her first-ever woven work in the TextielLab. The work was inspired by a 2,800-year-old fabric recently found in an Iron Age grave in Uden-Slabroekse Heide (Noord-Brabant). Scientists discovered a pied-de-poule pattern in the fabric, which was once dyed blue and red. The intricate check, the dyes used to produce it and the textile’s decay over time all come together in Jongstra’s latest tapestry.

Claudy Jongstra working on a new tapestry in the TextielLab, photo: Willeke Machiels

Discover colour with the kids

‘To Dye For’ includes a family game that literally brings colours to life. How many types of blue can you find? Did you know that bright red is produced by lice? Or that these little bugs are also used to give pink cakes (and many other foods) an attractive rosy hue? Follow the colour trail and discover the world of colours together.


New artwork dyed with homegrown plants

A special addition to the exhibition is the Dye Plant Garden, which garden designer Maaike Bertens and artist Nan Groot Antink planted with local residents in the museum’s forecourt. The garden is the starting point for a new work by Groot Antink called ‘From aster to sorrel: dye plants & stories’, which she co-created with the residents. The work will ‘grow’ inside the museum during the exhibition as new elements are added. Visit the Dye Plant Garden and discover which plants can be used to dye textiles.

Nan Groot Antink’s new artwork and the Dye Plant Garden, photos: Kevita Junior

In the exhibition: art installation by artist Antonio José Guzman and textile designer Iva Jankovic, dyed with indigo

The story behind indigo blue

Indigo is a natural pigment that can produce different shades of blue in textiles. It has a long history that connects people and places around the world. The dye was once considered extremely valuable, including for its great spiritual power. It was also a precious commodity grown by slaves on plantations in the American colonies.

Artist Antonio José Guzman and textile designer Iva Jankovic explore the colonial history of indigo in a monumental installation of indigo canvases commissioned by the TextielMuseum. The fabrics were embroidered in the TextielLab with symbols from traditional African texts and alphabets, giving new visibility to the African culture that was suppressed by European colonists. The installation was created in collaboration with indigo master Sufiyan Khatri and the experts from the TextielLab.

The textiles used in the art installation by Guzman and Jankovic are dyed in India, photo: Atelier GF Workstation
Guzman and Jankovic are incorporating African texts and alphabets in their design, photo: Tommy de Lange
Guzman and Jankovic are working in the TextielLab together with embroidery expert Frank de Wind, photo: Tommy de Lange

Workshops & masterclasses to dye for!

Want to try dyeing textiles for yourself? Join one of our workshops, masterclasses or activities for children. There’s something for everyone. Check the available options here:

View all activities

Supported by

logo Ministerie van Onderwijs, cultuur en wetenschap - zwart/wit