Storage of 19th century bonnets - case study description

Collection Highlights | Updated 9 years ago

Performing textiles conservation work on a bonnet
Storage of 19th century bonnets - collapsed storage container
Image copyright of WA Museum

One of the most important aspects of a conservator’s job is preventive conservation, which uses passive (non-invasive) strategies to minimise the physical and chemical deterioration of objects in our collection. One of these strategies is to provide artefacts with an appropriate storage environment.

WA Museum objects conservator Maggie Myers recently worked on the WA Museum’s small - but significant - collection of 19th century bonnets that required a storage review. Myers devised a design whereby a storage box would be built that would be able to support the hat in a face down position within the custom-built box. On removal from the box, the hat could be examined without being handled, thus limiting any damage caused by inappropriate handling.

An appropriately sized polypropylene box was utlised to contain the bonnet and archival cardboard was cut to fit the base and one side of the box. A custom made support for each hat was carved out of Ethafoam 220, covered with thin polyester wadding and a flesh coloured polyester knitted fabric. The Ethafoam hat support then slid onto a stand made of archival board so that the hat appeared to “float” in the box.

The stand was adhered to the side board so that when removed from the box it is able to freely pivot into a flat position. Tyvek tabs were attached to both ends of the base/side board to facilitate the removal of the hat on its storage/examination stand.

Ribbon ties on hats were held in place on the base board using Tyvek tape flaps that are easily opened to release the ribbons. The ribbons are adjusted so that the hat can be stored or positioned upright without putting tension on the delicate fabric.

Maggie’s innovative design and storage solution for these bonnets will allow them to be stored properly and handled safely when future examination or research is being undertaken.

Care of the WA Museum collections
Materials Conservation