Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


Though conservation is often thought synonymous with preservation treatments, this discipline also includes numerous approaches to examination and investigation that can offer a more complete understanding of a textile. In addition to prolonging the life of an object, a conservator works to determine the piece's construction, materials, condition, and authenticity. These approaches can range from "low tech" means such as the use of the unaided eye to sophisticated scientific instrumentation.

Systematic visual examination procedures can provide a framework for solid data that can be used for comparative analysis. Scientific examination can supply information about the materials used in the textile's fabrication, various stages of construction, later alterations, and its' present condition. In a museum this evidence is an invaluable guide to the curator in charting the history of a piece, to a collector or dealer in supporting the object's "story line", and to the conservator in treating it.

To gain these viewpoints a conservator may put a particular object through a series of low and high magnification examinations, chemical tests, and photographic procedures. This paper will present approaches which have been explored during the course of treating textiles.

Selected case studies will be presented that describe the methodology used along with the subsequent understanding gained from these investigations.