The Denver Art Museum’s vast art collection encompasses nearly 40,000 square feet, five storage areas, and over 70,000 works of art. Properly caring for these collections is crucial and thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the collections management department just completed an upgrade of the rolled textile storage collection.
The goals of the grant project included improving the current storage condition of the textiles, maximizing the use of space allowing for consolidation and future collection growth, and to improve access and safe handling for the textiles.
The previous storage conditions had rolled textiles on notched tubes extending across shelving with no center support. Over time, this created the tubes to become warped especially for heavier textiles. Additionally, it was extremely cumbersome to get textiles out for safe handling by staff. The new storage system creates more space efficiency, safer access, and now every rolled textile has a center support rod helping to preserve the stability of textiles in the future.
The IMLS grant project was completed over a nine-month period, involving approximately 10 staff members and 3,000 hours. Overall, 40 new state-of-the-art rolling screens were installed by Crystalizations Systems, Inc. This project included moving close to 1,000 rolled textiles to a temporary storage location. An additional 1,900 textiles stored within special cabinets and shelving were moved to accommodate the new textile space.
After the screens were installed the textiles were moved back up. Another huge outcome of the grant included funding to purchase new archival tubes. Forty percent of the rolled textiles were on old acidic tubes. Approximately 400 textiles were re-rolled onto archival tubes each wrapped with a cotton muslin cover. The muslin helps protect the textiles from light damage and dust accumulation. Each muslin piece was washed and ironed totaling several football fields’ worth of fabric! Other tasks included labels for the screens, new locations in the database, and a full inventory of the textile art objects.
The collections management staff truly love the beautiful textile storage. In the upcoming year, they will be presenting at conferences and conducting tours for local museum staff about the new storage.
Juhl Wojahn, associate collections manager, and Meghan Wilbar, collections assistant, also contributed to this article.