Review: 10th ICOC, Washington, D.C.


The 10th International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC) was held in Washington, DC from 17 - 21 April 2003 at the luxurious Omni Shoreham Hotel, recently restored to its 1930s splendor at a cost of $80 million. Many restaurants, shops and the National Zoo were within walking distance. The adjacent Metro stop connected visitors to numerous museums and other attractions of Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

The Conference offered varied and dazzling exhibitions as well as informative Academic and Poster Sessions. The Carpet Fair was one of the best ever.

Additional attractions for registrants included a pre-conference tour to Colonial Williamsburg and historic tidewater Virginia, as well as a post-conference tour to New York City to see special private exhibitions of rugs and textiles.

ICOC X provided a wonderful vacation and holiday opportunity for all participants, including those who brought children, especially with our favorable room rates at the hotel. The city had a magical quality in April, when many trees and flowers are in full bloom and the weather was excellent.

The Exhibitions

ICOC-X mounted exhibitions of fresh or rarely seen material and subject matter. Only registrants to the conference were admitted to these extraordinary exhibitions in the hotel:

  • Textile Art of Southwest Persia
  • Kurdish Rugs from the James Burns Collection
  • Kaitag Embroideries
  • The Engsi: Doorway to Paradise
  • A Collectors' Potpourri

Other exhibitions in Washington included:

  • Khordjin and Mafrash from Northwest Persia (The George Washington University Art Gallery)
  • Carpets of Andalusia
  • Mamluk Rugs of Egypt (The Textile Museum)
  • The World at our Feet (The Corcoran Gallery of Art)
  • Treasures from Museums of Uzbekistan
  • (The Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan)
  • Choice Pieces of the Textile Museum (The Textile Museum)

There were other related exhibitions of textile arts at Dumbarton Oaks, the National Museum of African Art and at other public and private venues.

The Carpet Fair

In 71 booths, international dealers, auction houses and book sellers exhibited at the International Carpet Fair in the Shoreham's elegant Regency Ballroom. Some of the world's most exquisite and interesting rugs and textiles were available for purchase. Although predominantly from the Middle East and Asia, there were textiles from South America, Africa and Europe as well. Conference registrants attended the catered Preview Reception on Thursday, April 17. Here is a list of the Carpet Fair participants. The carpet Fair was open to the public on all three days and the admission fee permitted unlimited re-entry. A total of 600 people (non-ICOC registrants) attended and several made purchases, according to exhibiting dealers.

The Academic Program

The Academic Committee, chaired by Thomas J. Farnham, conducted approximately 40 parallel regular and special Academic Sessions as well as the informative Poster Sessions, all within the hotel. A list of speakers, presenters and their titles can be seen here.

OCTS 7-The Academic Papers

Selected papers from the conference will be published in Oriental Carpets and Textile Studies, Volume 7. As with others in the OCTS series, this volume will make important contributions to rug scholarship and will be a welcome and useful addition to your library.

Optional Tours

Additional attractions for registrants included a pre-conference tour to Williamsburg and the historic plantations of tidewater Virginia as well as a post-conference tour to New York City to view special private exhibitions of extraordinary rugs and textiles. In addition, there was a special presentation at the Textile Museum of choice objects from the museum's collection.


Wendel R. Swan (Chair, Local Organizing Committee)

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