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Wednesday, May 31 • 4:05pm - 4:30pm
(Treatment: Going Big) Textiles as Architecture: Raising a Royal Persian Tent

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In late 2014, the Cleveland Museum of Art acquired a royal Persian tent that can be dated to the second quarter of the 19th century, as it is signed with the name of Qajar ruler Muhammed Shah (reigned 1834-1848). Measuring roughly 4.1 m (13-1/2 feet) in diameter and 3.5 m (11-1/2 feet) in height, the entire roof including exterior valance is extant, as are seven of 14 wall panels. Missing are seven wall panels, the top "register” of the seven extant wall panels, an interior valance, and the central pole and struts. Only the tent interior would have been decorated, in this example entirely of Rasht work, a technique executed in heavily felted plain-weave wool and named after the town on the Caspian Sea where the technique originated. The exterior of the roof and wall panels originally would have been undecorated, plain-weave red cotton. Reflecting the theme of AIC's 45th Annual Meeting – innovation in conservation treatment and collections care – this presentation will address that continuum as it relates to a large, three-dimensional textile that is as much architecture as it is textile. Complementing two tent presentations at the November 2015 NATCC meeting in New York, this one will focus on the perspective of a fine arts museum acquiring, treating, displaying, storing, and potentially lending a rare royal Persian Rasht tent. The tent arrived in Cleveland in March 2015 and was displayed in the Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery beginning in July 2015. During that interval, a mount was fabricated that allowed the front half of the roof to cantilever, offered visitors an uninterrupted sightline, and encouraged them to enter the tent. The mount had to balance original intent and conservation concerns – the tent roof supporting the wall panels as opposed to the mount supporting the wall panels. In addition, a base was fabricated, lighting designed, and conservation treatment undertaken. The collaboration between conservator, mount maker, cabinet maker, lighting designer, exhibition designer, and curator that resulted in this successful installation will be detailed. The tent was deinstalled in August 2016. A storage container for the tent roof and modular mount components was fabricated to ensure safe storage of this very large object. Additional treatment of the tent roof will be undertaken in winter 2017, and the modern navy blue wool lining on the wall panels replaced with custom woven and dyed plain-weave cotton to match the tent roof. These activities also will be discussed. During the brief window for treatment in June 2015, several discoveries were made about the tent, which informed subsequent decisions. These discoveries also will be shared. Finally, questions remain about re-creating an interior valance. No design evidence exists for this tent element, raising ethical questions as to how and if that element should be reconstructed.

avatar for Robin Hanson-[Fellow]

Robin Hanson-[Fellow]

Associate Conservator of Textiles, Cleveland Museum of Art
Robin Hanson has managed the textile conservation lab at the Cleveland Museum of Art for the past 17 years. In 1997 she completed graduate training in conservation, with a specialization in textiles, at the Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. She is a... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 4:05pm - 4:30pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom A Lobby Level, West Tower