On March 29th and 30th, 2017, Museum Textile Services Director Camille Myers Breeze and Conservator Morgan Carbone indulged in every textile specialist's favorite activity--surveying costume from one of the finest collections in New England. Old Sturbridge Village, a c 1830 living history museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, received a generous Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for Humanities, which covered our fees.
The goal of this survey was to photograph as many items as possible and record their condition issues, any treatment needed prior to exhibition, and whether they should no longer be stored hanging. In order to do this as efficiently as possible, MTS Administrator Kathy McKenna created a spreadsheet based on catalog data provided by OSV. Fields containing possible condition issues, such as abrasion, discoloration, insect damage, and fading, were added for us to quickly check off when present. Using this system, Camille and Morgan were able to assess 352 garments in a mere 14 hours!
Once we returned to Andover, the entire MTS team spent an additional two days compiling the data and generating individual worksheets for each item surveyed. Our report includes recommendations for future volunteer projects, such as constructing garment bags for some items, moving the most fragile garments to boxed storage, and basic surface cleaning. We now look forward to organizing volunteer training sessions both on site and in our Andover Studio.
If your institution needs a collections survey like this NEH funded project with Old Sturbridge Village, please contact MTS Director Camille Myers Breeze.