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In textile conservation this week, we are carrying out condition checks for a checklist of 27 pairs of women’s shoes from the 1950s for a possible ‘gallery rotation,’ (meaning when a gallery of light-sensitive objects is changed out,) in March 2021! A ‘condition check’ is when the conservator looks at an object to make notes about how it is doing and what we might need to know about it before it can go on display. Pretend you are the conservator: what would you note about this pair of 1954 women’s pumps?
One important thing to look at is whether or not the object is damaged. For this object, the conservator will note that the insole is lifting slightly near the toe and we might try to reattach it before display. Another thing we consider is how it can be safely displayed: the condition check will note that we probably need to figure out a way to make the ankle strap look nice without a foot in the shoe to hold it in position. Condition checks like this are just some of the invisible work that happens behind the scenes long before visitors get to enjoy an object on display.