With the opening of the new galleries of African art and Indian art of the Americas, we've been able to showcase not only many pieces from our permanent collection that have never been on view, but also several spectacular loans. And one of the most spectacular—and one that required the work of 80 people and over a million spiders—is the spider-silk textile in the African art galleries. This Malagasy textile is made from the silk of the native Golden Orb Spider, a material that is extremely elastic and stronger than kevlar. Textiles like this are incredibly rare because the process is incredibly time-consuming (over five years, in our case) and these spiders are nearly impossible to domesticate.
Check out the video above to hear interesting commentary from curator Kathleen Bickford Berzock and conservator Lauren Chang, as well as see images of these palm-sized spiders in the wild. Proving once again that the creation process is not for the faint of heart.