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Monday, May 16 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Objects + Wooden Artifacts) The Aftermath of Mends: Removing Historic Fabric Tape from Tlingit Basketry

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Disasters strike items of cultural heritage in many forms. Though natural and human disasters cause large-scale destruction in a matter of minutes, the slow deterioration of our collections by misguided interventions can also bring damage of notable impact to institutions. A campaign of undocumented museum mending in the early 20th century left in its wake wide-spread instability for 130 Tlingit spruce root baskets in the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian. The repairs are over-sized strips of linen fabric tape attached with excessive amounts of hide glue or cellulose nitrate, covered with carelessly applied and chromatically unmatched lead-based paints. These well-intended but unsuitable interventions took the existing damage of minor rips, tears, and losses and escalated it in magnitude to include warped structures, areas of embrittlement, and visually distracting repair material that obscure the structure and inhibit exhibition and scholarship. To the Tlingit community, these baskets are surviving examples of an endangered art form. Furthermore, it is not only the survival of the baskets but access to them that is integral. Guided by modern conservation and the expertise of Dr. Teri Rofkar, a Tlingit master weaver, we have begun a two-year project to reconcile the damage. We are investigating the optimal removal method of these mends and designing an appropriate treatment for the baskets which will reinstate their integrity, function, and potential for use for the Tlingit community and the museum.

avatar for Caitlin Mahony

Caitlin Mahony

Mellon Fellow, National Museum of the American Indian
Caitlin Mahony is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation at the National Museum of the American Indian and a recent graduate of the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials in Los Angeles. She has completed internships at the American Museum of Natural History, Ethnographic Museum in Berlin, and the Hibulb Cultural Center as well as other institutions. She has also worked on the... Read More →
avatar for Teri Rofkar

Teri Rofkar

Weaver, Raven Art
Teri Rofkar is a Tlingit daughter of Raven from the Snail House (T’akdeintaan), a clan originating in Lituya Bay (Ltu.a`a), related closely to the Coho (L’uknax.a`di) clan. The daughter of an Englishman from California, and granddaughter of the Kaagwaantaan Wolf of Ground Hogs Bay, Alaska. She has lived in Sitka for 38 yrs, and married for 40 yrs with 3 children and 1 granddaughter, these are her most valued relationships. She was... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 10:30am - 11:00am
Room 710 B

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