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I love doing this work. I feel that I am freeing these works that have been trapped on stretchers for decades. Now we can see the backs for the first time. You can learn so much from the backside of a textile — how it was woven and the thought process of the maker.

Stacey L. Kirby

Artist Stacey L. Kirby, a textile preservation specialist, visited our storage room this week to assess some of the museum’s ancient American textiles.

Many of the works are woven cotton panels. Here she cleans dirt, dust and debris from the surface of a Peruvian textile, dated between 1000 to 1476 CE. Stacey had first unmounted it from a stretched canvas. (The work had been stitched onto the canvas sometime in the 1970s.)

In the photo above and to the right here, Stacey vacuums the piece through a special screen; the vacuum hose itself is also fitted with a nylon net. This beautiful textile will be stored flat within acid-free tissue paper.

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