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The Telegraph

The Department of Textile Conservation excels in the extensive practice of textile preservation and conservation treatments, in developing various methods of displaying textiles, and in the systematic study, documentation, and scientific investigation of textiles.

These include, among others, tapestries, carpets, woven textiles, embroideries, costumes, and three-dimensional accessories of European, Islamic, Asian, and American origin. The Department is constantly building and steadily refining, as research advances, a collection-related comprehensive database.


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The latest analytical equipment and methodology are used together with traditional methods for studying and researching The Met collection and related textile materials and technology, and for developing advanced treatment and preservation methods. Visit The Met Store to discover publications and products related to The Met's current, upcoming, and past exhibitions. From exhibition previews to curator talks and performances, experience the best of human creativity from every corner of the globe at The Met.

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Meet the Staff See an alphabetical list of current full-time staff in the Department of Textile Conservation. With your untrained eye, you will notice the colorful beads and red fibers that decorate the moccasin, as well as the dark leather material that forms the shoe.

Every piece that enters a museum collection goes through a condition evaluation. She added that this also helps to place the piece within a time period and culture.

Textile conservation in New Zealand.

There are many scientific techniques that can be used to investigate the nature of a textile, ranging from chromatography—which identifies dyes—to dipping a sample of the textile in sulfuric acid and observing how it reacts; cotton a natural fiber will dissolve, while polyester a synthetic will not. In the Harvard Art Museums, Dr. For example, natural fibers like wool and animal fur are mainly composed of keratin, a protein that is the principal structural component in our hair and nails.

Rayner explains that keratin samples from different species have unique markers that can identify the animal that a natural fiber came from. Sometimes, the condition of the sample dictates which techniques are used. These methods were chosen because most of the textiles had been burned and chemically altered by hot volcanic ash, so chemical tests were out of the picture.

Furthermore, because these were precious archaeological materials, researchers had to work with tiny samples weighing less than 3. Despite these limitations, these three techniques have allowed researchers to look at the morphological characteristics of the fibers making up the textiles Figure 2 , showing that ancient Romans used a variety of materials, from common cotton and wool, to the more exotic kapok and coir, in their textiles. Here again, science plays a role.

A moist environment can lead to mold, while a dry environment can embrittle a textile, Montague notes. Light is another big factor in deterioration. As for artificial lighting, UV rays are removed either by using filters or specific light sources that lack them entirely. In storage, pieces are kept in the dark, but if a piece is on display in the museum, conservators will control the amount of time a textile is on exhibit to preserve it for future generations.

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After all, all light—even light where UV rays have been removed—can cause irreparable and cumulative damage to a textile. Fernanda Ferreira is a sixth-year Ph. You can find her on Twitter FerniFerreira. Your email address will not be published. Currently you have JavaScript disabled.

Textile Conservation - Joyce Ertel Hulbert

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  • Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Figure 1: Textile source materials from top left clockwise.