A new storage system will preserve the many one-of-a-kind textiles that the Province of Mid-North America keeps in its archival vault in St. Louis.
Monte Abbott, Province Operations Director and archivist, has begun creating a storage system for embroidered banners, needlework and other textiles that are part of the Province’s history.
“We have several banners that are 3-feet, 4-feet and even 6-feet wide. The fabrics are currently folded and stored flat. This storage method is not optimal because folding causes permanent creases,” Monte said.
The new storage system is based on a design that Denise Thuston, archivist for the Friars Minor in St. Louis, created.
Denise’s system of storage allows fabrics to be rolled onto tubes that are suspended on stainless steel chains. The fabric rolls are covered in a non-reactive covering like Tyvek sheeting or muslim cloth to prevent discoloration of the fabrics and yarns that were used to create the banners.
Identifying labels are tied to the covering to describe details about the banners. Monte will turn the fabric rolls one-quarter of a turn every three months to avoid potential distortions caused by gravity.
Monte currently maintains temperature and humidity control of the vault where the fabrics are stored to ensure that the textiles do not deteriorate over time. Temperature and humidity swings cause fibers to expand and contract, which in turn, causes abrasion, wear and breakage – especially at folds and creases.
Lighting that produces excessive heat or has high ultraviolet radiation, such as direct sunlight, can damage artifacts in a very short period of time. Light damage to archival fabrics and other materials is irreversible. To avoid potential problems along these lines, Monte monitors the type and amount of light that enters the vault. He wears white cotton gloves while handling archival materials to prevent perspiration or chemical residue from soiling the Province’s historic artifacts.
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