An internship in textile conservation : July-September 1983 Australian War Memorial, June-August 1984 The Abegg Stiftung

  • Karina Schulz

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The dissertation is divided into four sections. The first deals with the work experience gained at the Australian War Memorial, followed by that gained at the Abegg Stiftung. Observations on visits to other conservation laboratories and a report on the two international conferences attended, complete sections three and four. Work experience at the Australian War Memorial Textile conservation laboratory involved spending time in assisting with ongoing programs, conservation treatments carried out with supervision, as well as research. The time was divided so that all areas received equal emphasis. Ongoing programs involved the uniform inspections program and the display maintenance program. The involvement with routine tasks of surface cleaning, and with preparation for storage or display, with both programs, is not detailed in the dissertation. Nor can the dissertation include all the treatments of objects. Reference may be made for details on these treatments, to Australian War Memorial Conservation records for objects with the following accession numbers: AWM 1102 ,/5947 ,/10487, AWM 7919. However, two treatment reports are included. These are for a pair of flying boots worn by the Baron von Richthofen, and for an embroidered silk souvenir. The boots, now on permanent display were conserved with attention given to the need to preserve historical evidence, the choice of materials used for repair and requirements of display. The silk textile treatment took into consideration the benefits and risks involved in removing a deteriorated backing and relining a silk which was extremely embrittled. In the process it was realised that a facing might give stability to such a deteriorated silk; however, an initial study of facing materials and methods was required and was therefore undertaken and reported on in the dissertation. Whilst inspecting items in the relics collection of the Australian War Memorial a number of rubberised fabrics and other rubber materials were observed to show problems such as hardening, embrittlement, deformation, tackiness or discolouration. It was found that no information had been published on the treatment and preservation of such materials in the conservation literature. A survey on rubber deterioration and preservation literature since 1900 is included in the dissertation. The function, facilities and equipment of the textile conservation department of the Australian War Memorial are described as well as the storage of relics · and uniforms. Work experience at the Abegg Stiftung involved assisting with group projects in most instances as well as working independently with supervision. It was therefore decided to report in general on the types of treatment given and give a brief account of the experience and skills gained. An example of a treatment report as was required for the Abegg Stiftung records is included as well as an example of detailed personal notes on the progress and treatment of a 15th century silk chasuble. The Abegg Stiftung is recognised as one of the foremost training centres in textile conservation in Europe. This led me to consider here the benefits and possible limitations of the program from the impressions gained during the three months work experience at the Institute. Round table discussions were held by Mechthilde FluryLehrnburg which served to raise questions for discussion by textile conservation students and staff. This also permitted a consensus to be reached when items of a complex nature were to be conserved. A record of such a discussion is annexed. The Library of the Institute was frequently consulted by historians, as it specialises in textile conservation literature and many languages are represented, German being predominant. This library was consulted on German literature on textile conservation, and a brief guide to sources is included. Visits were made to a number of textile conservation laboratories in Europe. It was possible as a result of these visits to evaluate various types of equipment which are· used for textile conservation. It was seen that although much skilful work was being done, especially in laboratories where more conservative treatments were preferred, there were a number of questions which were raised and remained unanswered. Subjects discussed and research undertaken are reported. The IIC and !COM conferences attended, introduced me to international cooperation and activity in conservation research and setting of standards. Information found to be relevant to progress in textile conservation research and related materials is summarised here.
    Date of Award1985
    Original languageEnglish

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