Conservation of Rare 13-Star Naval Flag Complete. Flag to be Installed at the Wixon Middle School in July.
Andover, MA – Museum Textile Services will install a rare 13-star naval flag, believed to be made in the mid 19th century, at South Dennis’s Wixon Middle School next month. The extremely large flag, which is now cared for by the Dennis Historical Commission, was originally given to the Dennis Historical Society in 1970 by descendants of Captain Bernard O’Neil (1822-1889). In 1975, the Wixon Middle School was selected as the public location in which the flag would be displayed.
Camille Myers Breeze, Director of Museum Textile Services, oversaw the conversation effort and will supervise the installation process. “This appears to be a ceremonial flag used by the U.S. Navy to declare the country of origin of the sailing ship as it entered a foreign port. It’s incredible to imagine just where in the world the flag has been. And now, it has made one more journey: up to the conservation studio in Andover, where the flag was cleaned with a gentle hand vacuum and vulcanized rubber sponges. Meticulous repairs were made by hand while the flag was rolled on a 12-foot-wide tensioner. In just a short time, the flag will return to Dennis and once again be at rest.”
The 13-star flag is hand sewn of wool bunting with cotton appliqué stars. Given its size and age, the flag is in remarkable condition. It has hung in the auditorium at the Wixon Middle School for more than 25 years, where it accumulated dust and began to show strain from being stapled to a wooden beam. “As conservators, we have the opportunity to play a small part in the story of the historic artifacts we are asked to protect,” Camille said. “In this case, we were working with simple fabrics—wool and cotton—that were hand-stitched over one hundred and fifty years ago.”
A team of conservators from Museum Textile Services will arrive at Wixon Middle School on July 8th to begin mounting the flag on a custom museum panel. By the morning of July 10th it will be installed into a new 118 x 180 inch frame. The frame will be hoisted onto the auditorium wall later that day with the help of Artex Fine Art Services of Somerville, MA.
Press are invited to view the final conservation work on Tuesday, July 9, between 10 and 4, and to see the flag installed on the wall on Thursday, July 10th, between 11 and 4. Camille Myers Breeze can be reached on those days at 978-851-0110.
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