As we prepare for Halloween this week, here’s a scary story from textile conservation! Usually our Japanese dolls that have original wooden boxes are stored apart from the box because the box isn’t the safest environment for their long-term preservation: materials like wood acid and degrading paint can be harmful in close contact with delicate silk costumes and other materials.
Someone was looking for another object in storage last week and discovered this lady still in her box, swathed in some plastic sheeting, and alerted conservation. It’s enough to give a conservator shivers of horror. The Japanese doll (and her box) have come to conservation to be outfitted with a new, more chemically-sensitive storage environment. Both box and doll will be returned to storage after some improvements to help protect the doll.