By Lisa Yeats
In January 2014 I arrived in Massachusetts to begin work with Museum Textile Services. My time has drawn to an end but I wanted to share with you my experiences as an Aussie in America.
After graduating with a Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation from The University of Melbourne in Australia, I traveled to the US in April 2013 to present my thesis research at the AIC’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. I decided to stay on in America to gain some international professional experience. I originally came across Museum Textile Services while I was a student via their fantastic website and was really excited to work with Camille and the team. After taking some time to acclimatize to the Massachusetts winter, (in Australia winters are 60 degrees!) I set to work.it.
While I have appreciated all of the work I have done at MTS, the projects I enjoyed being a part of the most have been the regionally specific ones. Coming from Australia, it has been great to get an insight into the culture and history of New England through the objects I have interacted with. I have mounted 18th Century needlework samplers from the New Hampshire Historical Society, treated a local family’s collection of military heirlooms, and cleaned and stabilized historic American quilts.
One project I worked on that was particularly special to be involved with was the conservation of textile artifacts that had been left at the memorial site after the April, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings for the exhibit, "Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial" at the Boston Public Library. The entire MTS staff were there for the opening of the exhibit and we got to see the Mayor of Boston and both of Massachusetts' State Senators.
I have had a great time at MTS. My knowledge of materials and my hand skills have definitely improved, and I am more confident in my ability to carry out a range of minor and complex conservation treatments. MTS is the first private conservation studio I have worked in. One unique aspect I have really enjoyed is the personal interaction with clients and seeing their reactions to the results of conservation treatments. My time at MTS has helped confirm that I am going to pursue a career in the conservation of textiles specifically.
Massachusetts is the final stop on my year long tour of America. I am all set to head home to Australia in later this month, so I feel as though this is a very fitting send off.