The Clothworkers’ Centre is home not just to tens of thousands of museum objects, but is also quarters from which they can be cared for and prepared for loan or display.
the new studio, before and after © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A team of V&A conservators now work their magic from within a state-of-the-art studio located on the top floor of the building, where they can mend, clean, mount and give advice on objects, all within a stone’s throw of the excellent facilities provided by the study and seminar rooms on the floor below.
Conservation is an often poorly understood area of museum work, but its significance in support of the Museum’s output cannot be understated. Without the input of conservators, it would not be possible (or wise) to put any object on display. More information about the breadth of work carried out, and the expertise required for it, can be found on the V&A website.
valance, printed cotton, United Kingdom, ca. 1790, showing the Storming of the Bastille (Museum no. T.63-1936) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This particular object is destined for the new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries, which are due to open at South Kensington at the end of 2014. It is a plate-printed cotton bed hanging depicting the Storming of the Bastille in July 1789. The studio also works on objects destined for temporary exhibition and loan, so if ever my colleagues in Textiles Conservation find themselves surrounded in the studio by tiny houses, they should remember that they are not in Lilliput, but rather there is to be an exhibition of dolls’ houses at the Museum of Childhood next winter.