Fall 2019 – Spring 2021
Winterthur UNIDEL Graduate Research Assistant – Historic Area Rug Accoutrements Research
The two years I spent at Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library in the Textile Conservation Lab involved working on three main projects. The first project was for the historic rugs in the house. The historic rugs throughout the house had not been surveyed in years. Therefore Kate Sahmel and I went through the house surveying all of the rugs. We were concerned with their condition, the presence of bug frass, the kind of and condition of their existing underlayment layers, and the presence of any carpet runners to protect the historic rugs from foot traffic. In addition to this survey on the historic rugs, I also was tasked with researching carpet runner and underlayment options for the rugs. The carpet runner company and the mesh underlayment that had previously been purchased for the historic rugs had both been discontinued. Therefore I contacted carpet manufacturer representatives and showrooms I worked with during my time as an interior designer, other historic houses to research what they used on and under their historic area rugs, and books on the subject. At the end of the Fall semester I was able to submit two carpet runner sample options and one mesh underlayment sample option. All of them would have to be tested before they are used in the house.
During the Fall Semester I also began research on my second project entailing the rehousing of the needlework tools in the collection. Grant funding allowed for the rehousing of the collection for public research purposes. The first objective was to understand the extent of the needlework collection and where the items existed throughout the house. I created a list of all needlework tools. There are over 500 tools in total. Then I divided the collection by material and size to determine their housing options. I began with the bone and ivory tools, looked at pre-made housing options but determined because of the various sizes most of them would have to be handmade for each tool. I created a spreadsheet listing each bone and ivory tool, its size and the size of housing it would need given the appropriate amount of space around it for accessibility purposes. This information was based on the information I gathered of other rehousing projects at the Boston MFA and John Hopkins Archaeological Museum. This project continued into the Spring 2020 semester. However I was unable to continue this project beyond preliminary research due to the shutdown of the world in early 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. This information will be available for those who take on this project in the future and could be a model for how to tackle the other needlework tools rehousing process in the future.
My final project at Winterthur began with questions based on the past experiences of the textile conservator, Laura Mina and my own interest in exhibiting textiles. Some of these questions were: How do conservationists, collections managers, curators, and other professionals take care of their historic textiles on display? How do they determine how long to exhibit a historic textile and establish rotation cycles? What is this schedule based upon? How do they determine the amount of light exposure for their textiles? And more specifically, how could Winterthur establish the appropriate policy and guidelines to conserve the textiles on permanent or temporary display in the house and galleries? I began by researching the history of lighting in museum spaces. I created a Sutori Timeline to shared my research.
We then created a survey to share with professionals to understand how they work with historic textiles and lighting. I then shared these results with Winterthur colleagues in a final report for future work.
Museum Education and Interpretation, Programming Project: “A Conversation with my Brother”: Perspectives on Loving Blackness.
For this project I was interested in engaging Asian and Black American men and teens in a museum programming event. Men and boys of color are the least represented group among artists, professionals, and visitors to museums. Why is this still the case in the 21st century? Through this fictitious programming event I wanted to bring them into the museum and spark dialogue around the solidarity and tensions that exists between the two communities. This would be done during a First Friday at the Asian Arts Initiative centered around the exhibition Loving Blackness. In my report you will see I include artists talks with Dred Scott and Shaun Leonardo as well as discussion with Korean artist, Christian Chanyang Shim aka Royal Dog, and co-owner of the breakin’ group, Hip Hop Fundamentals, Mark Wong.
Loving Blackness was curated by and on display at the Asian Arts Initiative from February through April of 2017.