Help! Conserving vintage theater curtain


Mar 2, 2006
Clarion Pennsylvania
A customer called to see if I could help with the conseration/restoration of a vintage theater curtain. The thing is huge, maybe 18 feet high and 26 feet wide. It appears to have been handpainted on panels of cotton, perhaps in the 1920's. The curtain is being replaced with a new one, but the community wants to save this old landmark drapery. Can anyone suggest a textile conservator in western Pennsylvania or thereabouts. Until they get more direction they want to know how to store it. Should it be rolled up (not folded) within a cotton sheathing?
Should they rehang it? Hang it behind sheeting?
Katie, it is difficult to give a definitive answer with out seeing it or knowing more particulars, but logistically speaking, folding might be more practical than rolling. How has it been stored up until now? Generally things are rolled or folded design side out, to avoid crunching. Padding can help on the folds.

Have you tried the AIC directory for textile conservators in your area? An initial condition report and storage recommendation could help in the short term, maybe with a longer term treatment recommendation and cost estimate for fund raising purposes.

It would be good to have the conservator in at this early stage, to give overall direction and focus.

Good Luck!

There is a woman in Frederick, MD(which is Western MD, but a half hour east of us) who specializes in painted textiles. Her name is Nancy Pollak. I have her number at work, so give me a call if you want it. Mine is 301-745-5423.