Recently, the Denver Art Museum received a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help us improve how we store works of art in our textile art collection. Since preserving artworks in the collection is part of our mission, we are very excited that we will be installing new rolling screens that will improve storage and access for textile artworks. The new storage system will streamline preparation for the expanded calendar of textile art exhibitions, rotations, and programs.
The DAM’s textile art collection is truly exceptional, including printed, woven, and embroidered tapestries, quilts, rugs, and even clothing, which represent many unique time periods and places from cultures all over the world. Funders like the IMLS make it possible for us to care for and preserve these beautiful works of cultural heritage.
The new storage screens will relieve overcrowding and allow us to access individual works more simply and safely. But before then, we must first remove all artwork to a temporary storage location while the screens are installed. This is a big task, so this month, collections and conservation staff will begin to move over 2,000 textile art objects to install 40 of the new state-of-the-art rolling storage screens. Nearly 1,000 of these objects are large, rolled textiles, some as long as eight feet long. Once the screens are installed, the team will move them all back into the space and onto the new screens.
The old system that we are replacing this spring, involves tapestry rolls being suspended on shelf units by notches cut on each end. Currently, access to any one object requires moving several others and engaging multiple art handlers. Because there is no internal support when hanging, heavier textiles are at risk of bending and distorting their rolls over time, but the new screen storage system will use internal support that will significantly improve conditions and ensure the long-term safety of the textile artworks.
Thanks to this grant from the IMLS, we will be able to implement programming with more ease and at less risk to the objects.