By Erin Halvey
This year, you may have noticed a small group of athletes in the Olympic Opening Ceremony walking behind the Olympic flag. They were three of four athletes given special permission to compete as independent Olympic athletes or IOAs. Three come from the Netherlands Antilles which were partially absorbed by the Netherlands, and one is from South Sudan. Neither country has a National Olympic Committee so they cannot represent their home countries. The IOC is allowing them to complete as independents.
It has only been a relatively recent phenomenon of IOAs competing. Either, it's a way to get around sanctions (in Yugoslavia's case in 1992) or a way to allow athletes who have been training to work around the political turmoil of changing governments or newly found independence.
Part of the requirements placed on these athletes is that they must compete under the Olympic flag and wear neutral, white uniforms. In 2000, the IOAs from East Timor and in 1992, the IOAs from Yugoslavia and Macedonia were both required to procure white uniforms themselves.
By choosing a white uniform, the IOAs are stripped of any hint of national flags or political statements. White is the color of neutrality; it is both the absence of color (in pigment or dye) and the combination of all colors (in light). The white uniforms allow the IOAs to represent no country and yet all countries at the same time.
Nike has created the uniforms for this Olympics' IOAs. They took pieces of their current collections and customized them with the Olympic logo, the designation of IOA, and made shoes that incorporate the five colors of the Olympic logo. You can read about the specifics of the uniforms (such as the exact model in Nike's collection) at Freshness. They even talk about a special scarf made for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and how it relates back to a Nike program.
Photo credits: Nike via Freshness.
If you liked this article, you might like our other Olympics-related posts.
Erin Halvey is a collections management intern at MTS, is an art nerd, and she also has a website devoted to the art and food she encounters at home or on her travels called A Sense of Place.
By Camille Myers Breeze
This week we introduce a new blog theme featuring before and after images and histories of textiles we are treating. Let us know what you think!
In one of the earliest MTS Blogs, Sarah Berlinger introduced readers to the Olympic uniform of hockey player Gordon Smith. Mr. Smith is an alumnus of Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, who are the owners of his prestigious garments. In the midst of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, we thought we'd show you the results of the conservation treatment.
Some highlights of this treatment include dying wool roving a matching shade of ecru and needle punching it to a cotton substrate. These patches were placed behind areas of loss and lightly needle punched to the coat to integrate. Although visually continuous, these patches can be removed in the future if necessary.
All of our display mounts were made of archival Ethafoam and polyester padding with a tan cotton/poly jersey as the show fabric.The deteriorated silk bow was removed from the hat and returned to the owner. A new bow was made from polyester ribbon (the cut edges were painted with archival adhesive to prevent unraveling.) One missing button was replaced with a similar button painted to match.
This project took a year to complete and was returned to Middlesex School in time to be displayed at the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. You can learn more about conservation of sports memorabilia in the conservation section of the web site.
Many thanks to Middlesex School, Historic New England and the entire MTS conservation team, especially Sarah Berlinger, Cara Jordan, and Courtney Jason.
by Sarah Berlinger
"The most important thing is not to win but to take part!"
Coined by International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin, this phrase has served as a motto of the Olympics since 1908. We at Museum Textile Services were very excited to receive several items of Olympic memorabilia for conservation from the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. An alumnus of the prep school, one Gordon Smith, donated his jacket, cap, and hockey pants from the 1932 Olympic Games to the school’s collection, and they have elected to have it conserved as an important piece of American Olympic history.
Gordon Smith was a member of the 1932 and 1936 United States Olympic ice hockey teams. The 1932 games, where these objects were used, took place in Lake Placid, New York. That year, the team won the silver medal. In the only game Smith played in that year, he scored a goal. In the 1936 games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen,Germany, the team earned the bronze medal. Smith played in all eight games, and also scored one goal that year. Undoubtedly, Gordon and his team believed in de Coubertin's maxim.
The objects submitted to MTS for conservation include the jacket and cap used during the Opening Ceremony and worn by athletes throughout the games, as well as a pair of hockey pants that were most likely worn during competition. The objects have piqued interest in the studio, as several of us are avid hockey fans. It has been wonderful to learn the history behind such unique and meaningful items in the Olympic History of the United States.
Click here to see an image of Smith and the U.S. ice hockey team from the 1936 Winter Games.