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The rehousing (creation of safe and secure mounts or "housings") of the Costume and Textile collection took place over a four year period from 2003-2007. In 2003 the Kress Foundation provided a fellowship for a project conservator to complete the first-aid treatments identified in the survey and to rehouse the European Textile Collection. This was followed in 2004 by an IMLS Conservation Support Grant which supported the design and construction of custom mounts and housing for the American and Western European costumes and accessories. The project was completed with funding provided by a 2005 Mellon Foundation grant and from a storage facility budget.

Each specially designed mount provides full support to the object and minimizes handling and movement. The materials used to rehouse the objects had to be inert—they should not react adversely with the object, degrade, or emit harmful chemicals. We used acid-free blue board (a corrugated cellulosic support) and polyethylene foam, which unlike polyurethane foam, does not break down and create a powdery residue. We also strove for versatility, so that with a limited set of materials we could use them in various ways to produce mounts uniquely suited to each object. It was really important to design mounts that were simple yet effective, and fairly quick to build.

Housings should:
  • Provide support and protection
  • Enable study with minimal handling
  • Be constructed using materials that have good aging characteristics and versatility

Boxed objects
For boxed costume, we stitched lengths of Tyvek™ into tubes and filled them with polyester batting. We used these in place of tissue because they hold their shape, are durable, and have a smooth surface that won’t catch on decorative surface elements like beads and sequins. Also, whereas a piece of tissue has a limited 36” length, the Tyvek™ tube can be used to pad a fold along the side of a garment as long as a 60” box, if needed.

Before placing the garment in a box, Tyvek™ tubes were inserted into the folds along the sides of the garment and throughout the fullness of the skirts and other areas as needed. The garment was then placed on a large sheet of Tyvek™, creating a sling, enabling transport in and out of the box without direct handling. In some cases, more than one garment could fit in a standard size dress box. To maintain an organized system, garments by a single designer or from the same time period were grouped together, with heavier pieces placed at the bottom of the box.

Hanging objects
Several different hangers were created depending on the type of hanging object. Padded skirt and garment hangers were created for objects that did not require unique consideration. Over-sized skirt hangers were created for objects that were constructed of very heavy fabric, primarily with our collection of 19th-century skirts. Download the hanger instruction sheet for the Museum’s Costume and Textiles Conservation department’s padded hanger solutions.
Padded hangers were created in various sizes suited to the type of garment
Felt was used to cushion the skirt/pant hanger and prevent damage to the fabric
A completed over-sized skirt hanger
An over-sized skirt hanger with garment provides support and stability for heavy fabric
Purse Mounts
For many of the purses, a simple mount was constructed of blue board with soft foam blocks or a rod cradling the object. The beaded purses were heavier and tended to slide on the board, however, so with these a recessed cavity was created using Volara® foam (which comes in large sheets and is quite easy to work with). In order to facilitate removal of the object, a length of twill tape was attached between the Volara® layers. Gently pulling on the tape lifts the object off of the mount.

Needle case mount constructed using tri-rod, cut in half, and backer rod
Embroidered wallet mount with tri-rod cut in half
Beaded bags need additional support. This mount uses needlefelt on corrugated blue board, with Volara® cut out in the shape of the object. Twill tape is adhered at right angles and used to lift the object from its mount
Tri-rod and backer rod hold this large purse securely in its mount

Fan Mounts
Similarly, many of the fans were housed in a mount with an object-shaped cavity and a twill tab for safely lifting the object from the mount without handling. The foam sheet of Volara® was cut before it was attached to the underlying blue board.

Larger fans have large guards that extend beyond the leaves. Storing these fans sideways would have caused the leaves—which are often fragile and in danger of splitting along the folds—to droop and sag. These are housed so that the weight is on the guards and they are secured with twill tape.

Many of the fans that have received conservation treatment in the past are stored open, because the stability of the treatment often depends on the fan remaining in the open position. Feather fans are stored in custom boxes as the feathers could be susceptible to damage from the movement of the compacting units.

Hat Mounts
The following images with descriptive text are exemplary of the types of mounts created for the hat collection at the Museum.

Ethafoam™ is carved to the approximate shape of the crown of the hat
Stockinette is pulled over the form and a small slit is cut in the Ethafoam™ with an exacto knife
The edges of the stockinette are pushed into the slit to create a secure, smooth cover
The crown support is glued to a length of 3” Ethafoam™ tubing, which is adhered to a piece of corrugated board 1/2”-1” larger than the brim of the hat. The tri-rod edges prevent the mounts from overlapping in storage and make handling easier
Backer rod was added to this hat mount. It created a soft foam support which holds the hat in place with gentle pressuree
Some hats, such as this top hat, have enough structural integrity that only backer rod is needed to support the hat
A Volara® support, cut to shape and glued to the stockinette covered Ethafoam™, supports the wide brim of the bonnet

Needlework Sampler Mounts
Custom mounts for our sampler collection were created using the steps outlined in the images below.

The sampler is traced onto a piece of lignin free corrugated board. A window mat 2” larger than sampler size is cut
Pieces of lignin free corrugated board are cut to same dimensions as window mat
Washed cotton print cloth is cut 1” smaller than the support board
3M double stick tape is used to secure the fabric to the board
The window mat is attached to the fabric covered board using binders tape
The front board cover is attached to the window mat. Note: Another piece of corrugated board is placed below the front board to bring the 2 sections to an even level
Completed mount
The sampler is placed in the mount