The Textiles Department specializes in the preservation of flags, samplers, tapestries, laces, quilts, coverlets, costumes, embroideries, weavings, and ethnic textiles. Following the treatment the textiles can be custom mounted, framed, placed into vitrines, or prepared for long term storage. Patience and concentration is evidenced in the delicate hand work required by this department.

Treatment Examples

Click on any image below to view a larger version and to view in sequence. For more detailed information, see our archive of related newsletter articles.

Preserving a Torah Mantle

Torah Mantle, German, c. 1745. Velvet with embroidery and applique. 54 x 68 in.

These Torah coverings are traditionally large, ornate, commemorative curtains separating the holy scrolls from the rest of the synagogue. For information on the cleaning, rehousing, and history of this example, please read our detailed account here.

A damaged Sampler

Sampler, H.M., Cross Stitch, 1970, 24.5 x 17 in.

Though of a more recent vintage than most samplers we receive for treatment, this example was threatened by fire-related accretions and mold (left). The mold incursion was dealt with quickly, and then a fine vacuuming and a spot wash were able to eliminate the soot stains and particulate film (right).

Beaded Indonesian shirt

Shirt, Indonesian, Bamboo Beads, 48 x 10 in.

This shirt arrived with loose beads, frayed edges, and needing a proper display mount (left). After a light cleaning, the loose beads were reattached and the edges of the garment reinforced (right). The mount was created by our Custom Framing and Fabrication department.

A battered relic

Civil War Battle Flag of Company H , Women of Griggsfield, 1862. 57 x 86 in.

This historic relic shows battles lettered in gold paint, and on the reverse the fallen soldiers noted in black; it also exhibits staining, evidence of infestation, scattered holes, shattered silk, cracking paint, and general discoloration (left). Vacuuming and swabbing removed the particulates and infestation remains, the loss areas were supported by appropriate fabric, and the whole piece was hand stitched as well as adhered with archival adhesive to a canvas mount to support and distribute the weight of the piece (right).

Mid-20th century skirts for display

Tapis-style Woven Skirts, Indonesian, Sumatra, mid-20th c. Cotton fabric with metallic thread and sequins. 24 x 48 in

These skirts were in good enough condition, but having been stored folded they were creased (left). After flattening out the creases, they were split at the seam and mounted to linen boards for display (right).

A water-damaged quilt

Log Cabin Quilt, Silk and velvet fabric. 66.5 x 66.5 in.

Age-related damage had left this quilt in poor condition, with brittle silk, abraded velvet, many areas of loss and dye transfer due to extensive water damage (left). The owner decided to keep only a small portion of the quilt rather than try to treat the whole thing, so the conservator stabilized a small rectangle of the quilt on a mount (right).