Rebecca P
Carrying out conservation work during my placement

I have always loved working with textiles, so the opportunity to work at The Textile Restoration Studio seemed perfect for me. I was unsure of what to expect from the placement, not knowing whether I would have many opportunities to gain real hands-on experience. However, the reality of the placement greatly surpassed my expectations and taught me so much.

During my placement I had the chance to work with a selection of garments from the Barrow Dock Museum, which had been damaged in a flood. My tasks involved preparing these garments before they were taken for cleaning. I made sure the garments had the correct labels sewn inside, and if not made new ones. I checked the pockets for any loose items, removed any buttons or badges that could become damaged during the cleaning process and vacuumed the garments to ensure they were partially free from any mould or dust. This may seem like a simple task, however, it was so exciting to even hold some of these items. One of the garments was a uniform from World War 1, so to have the privilege of working on garments containing so much history was amazing. My favourite task involved checking the pockets and ensuring they were clean. When I placed my hand into the pocket of the WW1 jacket I discovered two tickets to the Opera, dated 1919. To even find someones stubbed out cigarette in the pocket of an old suit was fascinating, it was a reminder that these items were part of someones everyday life. To look at them behind glass in a museum can detach you from the reality of these garments, and this placement was a fascinating opportunity to connect with history in a way I had never experienced before.

Working at The Textile Restoration Studio gave me a unique insight into another side of the museum industry that I may not normally get the opportunity to explore. I knew little of conservation and restoration, but this placement has given me so much respect for the those that work within this field. The depth of knowledge involved with caring for collections is immense, and every day spent at the studio involved learning something new. I helped identify insects that were causing problems in stately homes, which chemicals worked well on each fabric, how to store items to prevent any damage. Overall, I found this placement an invaluable experience which I feel will benefit me in my future career.