by Phyllis Waggoner
The Weavers Guild of Minnesota (WGM) has long been a presence in the regional and national creative arts community. It is one of the oldest and largest weavers guilds in the country, and the only weavers guild that is a weaving school.
When the WPA/Federal Arts Project christened the Walker Art Center in 1940, Hilma Berglund, weaving instructor at the University of Minnesota, saw an opportunity to join in the movement to support the Arts communities. With the help of WAC education director, Leroy Turner, invitations were mailed to 26 persons who had expressed interest in forming a weavers guild, on February 15, 1940, sixteen weaving enthusiasts showed up. They chose a name, voted Miss Berglund temporary chairman, made plans to draft a constitution and viewed a weaving exhibit borrowed from the Seattle Weavers Guild. Less than a month later, the first official meeting of the Twin Cities Weavers Guild* convened. The constitution was adopted which called for election of officers in May; President: Hilma Berglund, Vice President and Program Chair: Mrs. Linwood Downs, Recording Secretary and Publicity Chair: Mrs. Elinor Minton and Librarian: Florence Willets. The annual membership fee would be $.50. Later in May of 1940, the Guild held its first workshop led by famed weaver/author/teacher, Mary Meigs Atwater.
The Minnesota State Fair invited the Guild to exhibit and demonstrate in the Creative Activities building in 1952, and it has continued to be a favorite community outreach to this day. In 1955, after many nomadic years of carting its library to various meeting venues, the Guild found a permanent location at the Minneapolis YWCA. Since then it has moved four times, today it is housed at the Textile Center, where the combined library of the Weavers Guild and the TC guilds is the largest Textile Library in the country. The three WGM classrooms contain a wide range of looms and spinning equipment as well as yarn and books for sale.
The story of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and its mission statement Preserving and Advancing the Arts of Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing is a strong affirmation of the founders vision.