Introduction | Essay | Paintings | Paper | Preventive | Textiles | AICCM conference papers 2008

Textile Conservation

image: detail: Malay people, Purse, 19th century Komering district, Lampung south Sumatra, Indonesia, silk, mirror, gold thread cotton lining, Acquired through gift and purchase from the Collection of Robert J. Holmgren and Anita Spertus, New York, 2000Malay people Purse (detail) , 19th century, Indonesia, silk, mirror, gold thread cotton lining, Acquired through gift and purchase from the Collection of Robert J Holmgren and Anita Spertus, New York, 2000  click to enlarge

The Textile Conservation department at the National Gallery of Australia is responsible for the care of the various textile collections, their storage and all aspects of display preparation. The principle collections covered are Asian Art, International Theatre Art, International and Australian Fashion, Australian Decorative Art and Aboriginal Art.

Our aim is to stabilise the objects condition or slow down the natural deterioration process. During any treatment, the aesthetic intent of the artist is maintained as well as all original components. All conservation treatments applied, such as patches, threads, linings and display mechanisms must be identifiable as new components and aim to be removable or reversible to allow for future improvements with materials or techniques.

The department assesses the condition of textile objects whilst in storage, or if requested for display or for loan to other institutions. Full documentation with photographs is carried out if treatment or analysis is required. Fibre and material analysis is obtained by using microscopes and chemical tests. Treatments vary considerably and may involve combinations of aqueous or solvent based stain removal, washing, sewing and adhesive restoration. Various display methods are used such as Velcro and heading cloths for flat textiles displayed on sloping panels, as well as the construction of mannequins for costumes or specialised forms for complex 3D sculptural textiles.

Related articles
Another journey begins: preparing the Gallery's Asian textile collection for exhibition artonview 29 autumn 2003 pp.24–25
William Morris Peacock and Dragon artonview 30 Winter 2002 pp.4849
Charina's Costume artonview 12 summer 199798 pp.4849
The restoration of Sari to Sarong artonview 35 spring 2003 pp.26–27
The journey continues: stain removal and washing of Asian textiles Micheline Ford artonview 32 summer 2002–2003 pp.53–55

Microscopy in textile conservation

Treasure a textile