American Textile History Museum

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Prestigious textile museum consolidates and preserves important collections

The American Textile History Museum houses Americas most noteworthy and integrated textile collections consisting of clothing, fabrics, and tools such as spinning wheels and hand looms. The museum, having obtained two large coverlet collections, sought out in search of the best storage solutions specially designed to accommodate the collections unique needs. Reaching maximum storage capacity, the collection required better space saving solutions. The museum was able to improve preservation methods and increase storage capacity by partnering with an ASA member, which allowed for additional space to expand the collections and provide staff with better accessibility to stored items.

CHALLENGE : As the museums cultural reach expanded, the amount of museum artifacts increased, which created new and unique storage needs. As the textile collection expanded, curators had concerns with existing storage space limits. Typically, fabrics were packed into archive boxes which posed the threat of potential exposure from environmental elements. Fabrics were undesirably folded and archive boxes were stacked on top of each other. Locating objects was often difficult as museum staff would have to sort through many boxes before finding exactly what they needed.

SOLUTION : A consultation for space saving and archival storage solutions to maximize on-site space was provided by the ASA member. Consolidation of all collections with room for growth was discussed. As a result, the museum was able to expand its collections by accepting items that they would otherwise never have been able to accept. The museum was able to minimize their storage footprint and increase capacity to accommodate its growing needs. Their coverlet collection storage was drastically improved with the use of high-density storage systems specifically designed to accommodate hanging garments. Top shelves and lower drawer storage for accessory items was utilized, as well as cabinets with pull-out drawers to store the museums premier hat collection.

Older storage methods such as boxing textiles were improved to accommodate the museums expanding collection and accommodate future growth. By hanging garments instead of rolling garments, cloth preservation was improved. The handling of items was minimized and items became easier to locate. By using two high-density mobile systems, rolled textiles were condensed, making the museum able to accommodate its current and future procurements. In order to keep track of each item in the collection, each item was assigned a storage location and entered into a museum artifact database. Items can then be retrieved and returned back to their assigned location after use, which minimizes excessive handling and ensures collection integrity.