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07 December 2016

Ch. Bertrand, Day Dress  (detail), 1908–1912, silk. Gift of Edith van Straubenzee, 1963 (C63-561.2)

Sophia Zweifel, the new Isabel Bader Fellow in Textile Conservation and Research, holds graduate degrees in both Art History and Art Conservation from University College London, UK, and Queen’s University, Kingston, respectively. She also brings conservation experience with various public and private institutions, including the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI); Conservation of Sculpture, Monuments and Objects (CMSO); McCord Museum; Canadian Museum of History; and Canadian Centre for Architecture. Most recently, Zweifel was part of a team at CCI that conserved Fannie Parlee’s 1860s Confederation Quilt, comprising leftover silk and velvet pieces from gowns fashioned for attendees of the Charlottetown Conference galas.

Gennifer Majors is the 2017 Isabel Bader Graduate Intern in Textile Conservation and Research. Majors has a Masters of Philosophy in Textile Conservation from the University of Glasgow, UK. For the past year, she was the Conservation Fellow at The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, where she worked with the newly donated Bea Roberts collection of Chinese minority textiles. Majors has also interned in the Costume and Textile Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The winning 2017 Fellowship project, proposed by Zweifel, combines social and material history with conservation treatment and analysis. Zweifel, with Majors’s assistance, will use the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress at the Agnes to investigate cleaning and care practices of garments in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, highlighting a domestic history that is often overlooked. Techniques of textile conservation will be applied to analyze traces of those processes that remain on the objects. Prior to their collection by museums, many textiles have had a long history of extreme maintenance to keep them looking clean and new, as social constructs demanded. Recent conservation methodology, however, has come to accept and preserve signs of wear and soiling as part of a garment’s lived history. This project explores how current efforts to preserve these signs contest with historical efforts to remove them.

Knowledge gained about the collection during the fellowship and graduate internship will be disseminated through blog posts and other social media platforms. The residency of Sophia Zweifel and Gennifer Majors at Queen’s University will also provide students in the Master of Art Conservation Program with opportunities for learning and interaction in the field of textile conservation and study.

The Isabel Bader Fellowship and Graduate Internship in Textile Conservation and Research link two unique resources: the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Master of Art Conservation, Canada’s only graduate degree in conservation theory and treatment.