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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Laundry Day

by Conservation


Order of Cincinnatus , NamJunePaik , behind the scenes , conservation

It was laundry day in textile conservation again! This length of Korean silk is part of a sculpture by Nam June Paik (1936-2006).  It was the victim of a mold outbreak recently, due to elevated relative humidity where it had been displayed.

It is not in our collection, but CAM textile conservation came to its rescue with a bath in the giant wash table. The stainless steel “bathtub” allows us to keep the textile as flat as possible during washing—not easy to do when the length of this textile is about 15 feet (180”)!

The conservator and assistant here are sponging the face of the textile with natural sponges to help move the soap solution through the fibers. To rinse, fresh water and a final rinse of deionized water are poured into the table and the whole table tilts up at one end to drain into a trough at the far end and then into a drain in the floor.

Good news! The treatment was effective, and the visible mold was washed away.