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Thursday, May 16 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
61. Life in Beads: Conservation of North-American Clothing

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In the 1950s, the Museu Paulista (MP) of the University of São Paulo (USP) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) exchanged ethnographic materials. At the time, the Brazilian museum donated more than 300 objects made by Brazilian indigenous groups and in return received objects from various groups such as Apache, Najavo, Zuni, Hopi, Tlingit among other cultures. This collection was transferred in 1989 to the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology (MAE) of the same university, and consists of objects that range from accessories, clothing to an extensive miscellany of objects. In this presentation we will highlight the work accomplished with 10 objects of clothing of this collection. These pieces were chosen before the others due to the precarious state of conservation to which they were presented. Many objects were wrapped without an internal support and this caused distortions in many of them. Besides the aesthetic effect, the distortions in leather objects also caused the breaking of threads that supported beads, thus causing areas with large losses of matter. Since the packaging was not suitable, materials such as leathers and beads of objects such as bags and loafers were covered with persistent dirt. Coupled with the risks associated with poor packaging and the layers of dirt that have covered these objects for years, we also detect dissociation. The sparse information that documented the exchange between museums in the 1950s did not detail the cultural groups of their origins; in addition, much information was mistranslated over the years, which led to misunderstandings in the identification of the material. To solve the problems encountered, tests were made for identification of materials and color resistance, then proceed to the next stages of the treatments, such as aspiration, mechanical and wet cleaning, humidification and reshaping and the production of specific packaging supports for each piece through moulage or draping and flat pattern drafting techniques. In order to remedy the risk of dissociation, bibliographic and museum database searches were carried out for searches of similar pieces to those studied, and their due documentation. Finally, it was decided to analyze several points of the objects through the techniques of Energy dispersive X-ray Fluorescence spectroscopy (ED-XRF) and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), in order to investigate the detected differences in the pieces after the preventive conservation and what the consequences that this information may have.

avatar for Ricardo Reis Vieira

Ricardo Reis Vieira

Textile conservator, University of Sao Paulo
Guest Researcher at Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE/USP)

Thursday May 16, 2019 3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT
Uncas Ballroom Foyer Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun