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Wednesday, May 31 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Textiles) Learning from treatments that did not go as planned

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This paper will focus on an 1860s silk dress, which is in the costume collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. This dress is made from an unique moiré fabric, and still has its original construction, which is rare because costumes were often altered. The dress has features typical of the period: a wide oval-shaped skirt with a flat front and flared sleeves. The skirt would have been supported by a crinoline cage. The dress was selected for a publication featuring about a hundred of the most interesting costumes in the Rijksmuseum collection. This meant the dress needed to be photographed on a mannequin to show the appropriate silhouette. Even with minimal handling, strain on the material cannot be avoided during the process of mounting the costume onto a mannequin. To be handled and mounted interventive conservation was needed in order to stabilize the dress. In 2012 possible treatment plans were discussed by the curator and the textile conservation team. Unfortunately, during treatment it was found that the silk moiré and the threads used to stitch the different parts together were more fragile than anticipated, which made the handling of the dress especially challenging. During handling and attaching the support to the object some strain on the seams was inevitable. This caused slits in certain areas and some pleats became detached. This, in addition to a change of plans concerning the publication, was the reason that the treatment remained unfinished. In 2016 the treatment was continued by a different conservator. When re-evaluating the treatment, different questions arose. The main question was whether the negative side-effects of the treatment could have been prevented. If not, what were the consequences for the state of the object? This paper will illustrate the difficulties of dealing with a treatment that did not go as planned. In general we often only have the opportunity to learn from successful conservation experiences, but how can we learn from treatments that were not successful? Additionally, the complications associated with two conservators working subsequently on the same object in a relatively short time frame, as well as the considerations of re- or undoing previous treatments will be discussed. The silk moiré dress is a valuable case study for illustrating and discussing both practical and ethical solutions.

avatar for Suzan Meijer

Suzan Meijer

Head of Textile Conservation, Rijksmuseum
Suzan Meijer studied Textile Conservation at the State Training School for Conservators in Amsterdam (1988-1992). She started working as Textile and Upholstery conservator at the Rijksmuseum in 1993. Since 1997 she is Head of Textile Conservation. The Rijksmuseum has a very important... Read More →

avatar for Marjolein Koek

Marjolein Koek

Textile Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Marjolein Koek works as a junior textile conservator at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2014, with a Master’s and Post-Master’s Degree in Conservation and Restoration, specializing in textiles. During her training she did internships... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 10:30am - 11:00am CDT
Crystal Ballroom C Lobby Level, West Tower