While the cotton fabric dissolved underwater, the umbrella’s handle and framework remain in good condition. Before the lab tech can clean the item’s wooden framework she must first unwrap the soft, protective mesh cover that helps support and safeguard the artifact.
Cleaning these tiny, delicate parts belonging to this umbrella takes great care and hours of work. Preservationists who work on this collection understand that patience is part of the job, as it often takes weeks and even months before some items are ready for display.
Re-sewing each shoe and boot is a necessary part of the preservation process for the leather footwear. There were over 4,000 such items in the Arabia Collection that require this procedure.
Following the re-sewing process, the artifact is prepared for freeze-drying. Here the technician fills the boot with acid-free paper to help shape the boot into its proper form. It will take approximately 4 months per boot to complete the process of preservation.
This amazing process of artifact conservation goes on daily at the museum. The lab is designed in such a way as to allow visitors a chance to watch the technicians work on the Arabia collection. The lab techs are always happy to explain what they are doing and answer questions. They know it’s a remarkable endeavor that visitors enjoy learning about.