Smithsonian Internship – Costume Conservation

Rehousing a garment by creating a hanging form.

Over my 2 months interning with Sunae Park Evans in the Textile Conservation Lab at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for American History, I completed a number of tasks, none of which I knew how to do before I arrived.  I learned how to make forms and mount any number of textiles, from shoes to hats, aprons, shirts, dresses, pants, skirts, gloves, and so forth.  I have learned to make padded boards for the mounting of flat textiles and pins.  I have quilted a sample to illustrate the manner in which magnets should be used to hang heavy textiles.  I have made cushions on which to rest objects while people in the lab work on them.  I have rehoused garments, both lying flat in drawers, and by making forms from which they hang.  I have researched garment designers and owners so that we are better able to showcase their work.  Additionally, I have surveyed, photographed, and refiled numerous objects, familiarizing myself with the more technical aspect of conservation.What I have learned from this internship is that there is an incredible amount of time and energy that goes into every mount for each garment.  Perfectionism is an asset.  I like that time and care is put into making everything as good as possible.  My favorite part has been walking into a lab each day and seeing a gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald, or another day, a Groucho Marx’s suit might waltz in.  It’s really amazing being around rather momentous artifacts.  It has reaffirmed my ambitions of working towards a job in the museum world.