At The Center, we treat items of great worth, historical artistic significance and shared cultural value. But perhaps some the most rewarding work we do is in preserving family heirlooms. These items very greatly from paintings to furniture and can be extremely valuable or purely sentimental, but all hold stories with meaning to the owners. We feel honored to assist families with preserving these items for future generations, and allowing their stories to carry on, and would like to share a recent story from one of our clients.
Late in 2012, our textile conservator was brought an American flag that over the years had become creased, fragile and discolored. Insects had left small holes scattered throughout the fibers, and previous repair attempts with safety pins were present. The flag was carefully unfolded, and cleaned of dust and debris. Because of the fragility and size of the flag, it was determined that water bathing the flag was inappropriate. Instead, the flag was carefully cleaned of dust and debris by hand, using only dry techniques.
The old safety pins were removed, and areas of separation were repaired. Sections of the stripes were reconstructed using a loose weave cotton fabric, mimicking the weight of the original wool while minimizing bulk and adding support. The flag was then traditionally re-folded and housed in a flag-case frame to protect it in the future from UV light, temperature, humidity and debris.
The treated Flag was given as a Christmas gift this past December, and the recipient was kind enough to share the story of his American Flag with our team, which we now share with you.
"Beginning in 1856, four generations of my family operated The Fauerbach Brewing Company in Madison, WI. It was once a thriving business and a major employer in Madison until the 1960's when the larger breweries put an economic squeeze on the regional brewers. When the Fauerbach brewery closed and the beautiful building pictured below was sadly demolished, family members scrambled to preserve a century's worth of artifacts. My father managed to secure the American flag that you see flying above the brewery in this lithograph. He entrusted me with it and I have kept it in a closet, properly folded as Old Glory should be, for 35 years. It was torn at the edges by wind and yellowed with age, until my wife [heard] about The Conservation Center. This Christmas she presented me with the most creative and thoughtful gift that I have ever received. That giant American flag has been completely restored by the people in your organization. It is now proudly displayed in our home, in full light, and will help keep the stories about the brewery alive for generations to come. My entire family is eternally grateful to [my wife] for her thoughtfulness and for the unique and special skills of The Conservation Center."