In this MTS blog we highlight a lovely day dress brought to Museum Textile Services by the Friends of the William H. Johnson House in New Jersey. The owners are in the early stages of determining what their new acquisition needs for long-term preservation and display. They elected to have a full conservation assessment followed by a Vac & Pack. The dress is now safely housed in archival materials and back at the William H. Johnson House while a conservation plan is finalized.
The hand-stitched day dress is constructed of pink and gray striped patterned silk with a glazed cotton lining. Based on the silhouette of the dress, it likely dates to around 1865 and may have belonged to William H. Johnson’s wife Sarah (the good condition of the dress suggests it was only worn a few times.) The dress has some small splits in the silk throughout, large splits on the proper left side of the bodice and sleeve cuff, and discoloration at the underarms. The lining is in less stable condition with evidence of past insect activity.
If you missed the introduction to our new Vac & Pack service, you can read it here. Vac & Pack, either with or without a conservation assessment report, provides a level of security for costume and textile collections that are in any condition. A conservator always examines the item/s for condition issues prior to surface cleaning and rehousing in brand new acid-free tissue, and a box or tube. The William H. Johnson House dress was carefully surface cleaned with a HEPA vacuum to remove dust and other particulates that can accelerate deterioration over time. Then the dress was packed in acid-free tissue into an archival storage box. The archival box was packed and shipped back to the museum.
If you have questions about your collection or you would like an estimate for a Vac & Pack, please contact our Studio Manager, Samantha Alarie.