By Courtney Jason
Just over a year ago, on October 7, 2011, Camille visited the Farnsworth Homestead in Rockland, Maine, to survey their carpet collection. Among the pieces surveyed were six machine-made carpets and three painted floor cloths. All of the carpets were Brussels carpets, meaning that their pile is looped, like terry cloth, rather than cut, like velvet.
The carpet shown above was identified as "Carpet B" in the survey. It is spring green and features a Rococo Revival pattern including brown, tan, and white flowers and leaves. Since Camille's survey, the Farnsworth Museum curatorial team has determined that Carpet B was originally housed in the living room because the size and shape of the carpet match those of the room. The spacing between tack holes on the carpet and tack holes in the floor were compared, which confirmed this discovery.
In late October, 2012, Camille returned to the Farnsworth Homestead to pick up Carpet B. It is now at Museum Textile Services, where it will undergo conservation treatment. After extensive surface cleaning with HEPA vacuum, the carpet will be wet cleaned in deionized water to remove over 160 years of dirt, soot, and dust. This will require us to build a custom wash tank on the floor of our mill building, as the carpet is larger than our wetcleaning sink.
After conservation, Carpet B will be returned to the living room of the Farnsworth homestead. It will be carefully re-installed using existing holes in the carpet and floor from the previous installation. To protect the carpet from further damage, non-corrosive tacks will be used and foot traffic in the master bedroom will be limited. Once re-installed, the carpet will give the visitor a more authentic idea of what the room would have looked like in the mid 1800s.
The Farnsworth Homestead is one of the historic properties of the Farnsworth Art Museum, a longstanding client of MTS. Mext time you are on Route 1 in Maine, visit the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Farnsworth Homestead, and the Olson House (pictured in Andrew Wyeth's iconic painting "Christina's World").