Collection Care Diaries: A New Home for the Large Textiles

In today’s post, Vicky introduces you to our swanky new home for the larger textiles in our collection.

Today we are looking at a new storage system for our larger textiles, funded by the Cultural Recovery Fund, which has revolutionised care of and access to our large textiles. This project arose from the re-rolling of our large textiles to check for moth damage, which highlighted the need to optimise their storage.

Our previous storage system was full, with no room for many of the more recently acquired textiles, and could not store any works over five metres in width, of which we have quite a few. The space was difficult to manoeuvre long rolled textiles safely, as you have to keep them horizontal and avoid brushing the roll against any nearby objects or shelves. It was also tricky to locate an item, with over 100 textiles charted as a single location and, due to the space restrictions, no categorisation of the textiles.

The new roller racking

The opportunity arose to have a different room fitted with custom-made roller racking for the larger textiles. Roller racking allows for a much more efficient use of space, as well as easing the task of moving the textiles. The aisles can be moved along so that the working space is wherever you need it to be, because there does not need to be a corridor between each row of textiles, the storage potential is maximised. This flexibility has allowed us the categorise our textiles into the production method, and the area that the textile was made in, making it much easier to locate an object. There are now at most thirty objects in each location, which also makes objects quicker to locate.

A bay of embroidered textiles.

The new system also allows the support arms that hold the textiles to be placed anywhere along the racking, which allows great flexibility for the wide range of textiles we have in the collection. Above, you can see how the storage is really maximised for textiles of approximately the same width, and below, the larger tapestries of different sizes are also catered for. These heavy textiles are supported by a metal pole to prevent bowing of the cardboard tube they are rolled onto.

The arms can move to allow for the storage of textiles of different widths.

This new storage system allows for all our large textiles to be safely stored, with a little room for future acquisitions. It is safer and easier to manoeuvre the textiles, and they can be easily located and are categorised with similar works. Sometimes progress starts with a moth infestation!

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