Textile conservation is a multi-disciplinary field combining scientific analysis and a knowledge of textile history and techniques with the practical skills necessary to carry out conservation treatments. It offers a fascinating combination of analytical problem-solving and hands-on work as well as the chance to extend and develop knowledge of our rich textile heritage. Through a close study of the textiles they work on, textile conservators can find out more about objects and their stories and contribute to their preservation and interpretation.
The programme combines the development of practical skills with a foundation in theory, including chemistry, and an awareness of the cultural significance of textiles and other objects. It aims to foster the key skills of judgement and decision-making, enabling graduates to select and carry out appropriate conservation treatments for a range of textile objects. The programme is a development of the MA Textile Conservation offered by the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton, from 1999-2009.
MPhil Textile Conservation is part of the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, and shares accommodation with students on the MLitt Technical Art History: Making and Meaning. The teaching on some courses is shared with students on other programmes in the College of Arts, particularly the Dress and Textile Histories programme.
Students benefit from the programme’s close links with Glasgow Museums, as well as the University’s own Hunterian Museum, and they are able to draw on the museums’ rich and varied textile collections. The development of practical conservation skills is a core part of the programme and students work on objects from both the Centre’s own Reference Collection and museums in Scotland and further afield. The integral work placement provides another opportunity to develop practical and professional skills. Students have undertaken their placements at the Burrell Collection, National Museums Scotland, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, The National Trust, The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and many other institutions in the UK and overseas.
The two-year programme provides a comprehensive, career-entry professional education to meet the needs of the heritage sector. It teaches students to understand and apply the Professional Standards in Conservation which are at the core of the Institute of Conservation’s professional accreditation process.
- object treatment through professional projects for museums and other clients and a work placement in a museum or other institution
- related practical skills including dyeing and photography
- the science underpinning textile deterioration and conservation treatments
- an understanding of preventive conservation techniques
- the technological, cultural, historic and aesthetic contexts of textile artefacts
- the place of conservation in the wider cultural sector
- an extended research project leading to a dissertation
The programme is housed in specialist conservation laboratories in the University’s Robertson Building – it shares space with the MLitt in Technical Art History: Making and Meaning programme. The facilities include student workrooms, a wet lab, dye lab, photo studio, chemistry lab and a well-equipped analytical lab which includes Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography, tensile testing equipment and light and heat ageing equipment.
Textile Conservation 2018-19 flyer (PDF, 2 MB)
Textile Conservation Blog
- Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History
- Research Network for Textile Conservation, Dress and Textile History and Technical Art History
Images reproduced courtesy of Glasgow Museums