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Textile conservation. Photo: Emmy de Groot.

Textile conservation

Textile objects exist in countless forms and have diverse properties. Costumes can tell us about the past, such as the fashions and tastes of the ruling elite. Flags and banners were important symbols of power, solidarity and faith. Curtains, carpets and other furnishing elements largely determined the character of historical interiors. That historical textiles have been preserved is not as self-evident as you might think. Owing to the vulnerable nature of the material, poor conditions and lack of proper care can cause textiles to suddenly crumble away: all the more reason to take good care of them.

Preserving heritage

The aim of the textiles Master’s programme at the UvA is to contribute to the preservation of this unique heritage. Initially, the focus is on handling textiles, the identification of damage and its prevention. The handling of textiles is practised in the workshop but also on site. Costumes and costume components feature later in the programme. For a textile conservator-restorer, knowledge of the world’s textile history is indispensable for dating objects and gaining insight in the development of techniques and forms, but also for understanding and interpreting the complex history of deterioration and loss. Together with material-technical research, this is essential knowledge for making informed conservation decisions.