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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Go big or go home!

by Conservation


CAMConservation , oversized art , historic carpets , textile conservation , textiles

This carpet is a whopping 25’ by 18,’ easily one of the largest textiles in the collection. Although the so-called “Cincinnati Carpet” has been part of the collection since 1952, it hasn’t been unrolled for inspection in at least 25 years and has never been on display (as far as we know) for a few reasons: it’s too big to accommodate safely anywhere in the museum and it remains a bit of a mystery. Where is it from? Why was it made? We hoped Dr. Walter Denny, an expert in Islamic and Persian carpets and textiles, could help us with some of the mystery during his visit last week, but the “Cincinnati Carpet” seems destined to keep most of her secrets for now. Dr. Denny’s visit was sponsored by The Markarian Foundation. His visit and the generosity of The Markarian Foundation gave us an important opportunity to get this and about 40 other carpets and textiles out for study, inspection, and—where needed—storage upgrades. Large carpets like this at the Cincinnati Art Museum are rolled on tubes which have been prepared to be conservation-safe, interleaved with acid-free unbuffered tissue paper, and finished with outer wrappings of undyed cotton muslin and plastic sheeting (which protect against light and moisture).

The Cincinnati Carpet, 17th century, possibly Europe?, wool, Gift of John J. Emery, 1952.241