The New England Rug Society (NERS) is an informal organization of people interested in enriching their knowledge and appreciation of antique oriental rugs and ethnographic textiles. Founded in 1985, it flourished in its own region for many years.
NERS transformed in 2020 — partly by choice, partly pushed by COVID-19, and partly unexpectedly — with the introduction of a webinar program that has extended the Society’s activities and reach literally around the globe.
NERS welcomes members regardless of their experience, whether rank beginner or seasoned expert. The focus is on sharing knowledge in a supportive and enjoyable way.
Selected Historical Highlights
The society was founded in 1985 by Rosalie Rudnick, Judy Smith, and Kate Van Sciver. Rosalie Rudnick was its first leader. There had been a prior Boston Rug Society, so the founders named their group the New Boston Rug Society. Early meetings were small, with many occurring in Rosalie and Mitch Rudnick’s basement. Later, as the society grew in numbers and with members further from Boston, it was renamed to be the New England Rug Society.
NERS has always been a group that reflected the diverse interests of its members. Sessions have examined weavings from many different areas. This includes all the major oriental rug weaving groups from Persia, Anatolia, the Caucasus and central Asia, with extensions as far as Morocco in the west, and Tibet and China in the east. Over the years, sessions have looked even further afield – pre-Colombian weaving from South America; hooked rugs, quilts, and Navajo blankets from North America; Swedish textiles from Europe; Kuba textiles from Africa; and Indus valley textiles and Japanese folk textiles from Asia, to pick just some of the examples. Note that while the group has used the word “rug” in its name, there has always been interest from many members in textiles as well as pile weavings.
Over the years, NERS worked with many other organizations with common interests. In New England, NERS activities have studied items from the collections of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Springfield’s George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, and Watertown’s Armenian Museum. NERS members have also provided pieces from their collections for exhibitions at the MFA and at the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum in Providence. NERS has coordinated sessions with other rug societies, individually and through organizations like the American Conference on Oriental Rugs (ACOR).
While our origins and focus have understandably concentrated on New England historically, the group has always connected with the rest of the rug and textile world. NERS members have taken in museums, dealers, auction houses and travel opportunities all over the world. This worldwide aspect is an even more central part of NERS today, with webinars typically drawing attendees from more than 30 countries, and the majority of NERS’ members now living outside of the six New England states.
NERS 2023 Steering Committee
Joel Greifinger (President)