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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Dr Mary Brooks

Brooks, Mary M. (2015), Sustaining Tacit and Embedded Knowledge in Textile Conservation and Textile and Dress Collections, in Summerour, R. & Zaret, C. eds, Textile Specialty Group, American Institute for Conservation, Annual Meeting, Postprints 24: Conservation: Sustainable Choices in Collection Care AIC 42nd Annual Meeting, 28-31 May 2014. San Francisco, USA, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Washington, 1-10.

Author(s) from Durham


Th is article explores the current paradoxical position of textile and dress collections and textile
conservation in museums from an English perspective. Textile and dress exhibitions have become increasingly
high profile, and conservators are being energized by an expanded vision for communicating the activity of
heritage conservation, engaging with the public in different and exciting ways and making this oft en hidden
process accessible. Nevertheless, despite many exciting initiatives, the underlying trend in the United Kingdom
indicates a creeping loss of specialist textile curatorial and conservation posts. Th e article explores the implications of these losses on tacit and embedded knowledge and expertise and the growing threat to the long-term
sustainability of textile and dress collections, particularly in the regions. It studies the reasons for these problems and considers in more detail a key issue, that of the loss of teaching needlework skills. Th e article argues that these issues need to be considered when planning strategies to ensure the sustainable future of textile and dress collections and related curatorial and conservation skills. It includes a case study exploring approaches to embedding sustainable expertise implemented during a Monument Fellowship at York Castle Museum, England.