Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Textiles, Tags, and Trouble!

So, now that I've removed all the hanging textiles from their muslin bags and re-hung them in the new shelving units, I'm left with a pile of tags from the bags. 

I want to make sure I'm not losing any information when I throw away the tags, so I've been looking up each accesssion number to verify that the database knows all there is to know about each piece.  Mostly I'm checking the dates.

Now, I don't mean to disparage those who have come before me, but a few things that were done simply don't make sense. Such as...

  • The database record will say something like "1938 - stored in 1940s bag."  Huh?  If you KNOW it's from the 1930s, why on earth did you choose to put it in a 1940s bag?  This has happened more than once as I've been working on this.  Strange.
  • There was one person in the past who liked to use "Skirt - Woman" for the Object Name.  First of all, PastPerfect likes you to use the correct term from the official museum nomenclature.  The correct term is simply "Skirt."  Second, aren't all skirts for women?  (There's a separate term for Kilts in the nomenclature!)
  • I discovered this problem a long time ago, but was confronted with it again while moving the textiles.  Several years ago I was looking through the collection with Kathy from the Canton Museum of Art to select pieces for an exhibition they were having.  We found a dress with a brooch still attached to it, holding a bolero style jacket closed.  We were not able to identify the material of the brooch, but it had ruined three dresses in that bag!  Whatever it was made of reacted very badly with the fabrics and actually bleached the color out of them.  The spots were not stains that could be cleaned.  This thing actually REMOVED COLOR from the dresses.  I've never seen anything like it.  It happened not only on the pinned dress, but also TWO dresses in front of that dress!  Because of the reaction, the bleached spots are now splitting and making holes.  I removed the brooch immediately when we found it, and for years we have been watching it implode on a metal shelf.  It is now almost completely powder.  Now that we have the dresses moved, I've tagged those three for deaccesioning.  We will keep them as teaching examples of what can happen when you store incompatible materials together.  But we cannot display them because of the damage.  Someday soon I'll take some photos to show you what I mean.
Conservatively, I estimate I have about 75 more tags to check, with anywhere from 2 to 10 accession numbers on each.

I better get back to work...

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