Category Archives: Collection Care

Collection Storage & Environment Survey, Long Island Museum


Spicer Art Conservation, LLC surveyed the storage and environment of the collections at the Long Island Museum, in Stony Brook, NY, a renown carriage, art and history collection. The project was funded by NEH Preservation Assistant grant. During a two day site-visit all of the collection areas on LIM’s campus were surveyed. A preservation plan was prepared to update their collection storage, displays and environment.  (Read more about the storage of saddles on our blog, “Inside the Conservator’s Studio”.)

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Carriage storage and Gwen Spicer with museum staff examining historic structures on-site. 

Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle’s Banner Collection

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), founded in 1882, has produced a banner every year to celebrate the culmination of each years graduating class. This unique and diverse collection represents artistic and fiber arts technology over the course of a century and a quarter. The inclusion of mottoes also reflects the thinking of the time. This collection continues to expand. The banners are hung on the walls of Alumni Hall and are carried in the annual Recognition Day Parade.

Spicer Art Conservation, LLC began assisting the Banner Committee in 2000 with a survey of the banners’ condition. The environment of Alumni Hall was monitored as part of the development of long-term recommendations for the proper care of the collection. The focus of the project quickly moved from individual treatment to proper storage and preventive care for the collection. Policies and procedures needed to be developed that addressed the use of the collection.


Gwen Spicer, over several years, gave talks and conducted workshops to train the committee members on the care and storage techniques that were specially developed for the collection. This enabled the Banner Committee to divide the banners into groups that included inactive, soon-to-be inactive, and active banners. The active banners remain hanging on the walls of Alumni Hall and are carried in the parade. 


The Chautauqua Institution expanded their Oliver Archives Center to include a room for the storage of the banner collection. The storage was designed for the inactive and soon-to-be inactive banners.  The facility was designed for each banner to have its own shelf (using InterMetro Industries shelving) and supported on a sturdy handling tray. Each shelf unit was given a dust cover and placed on caster wheels (see photos below). The next phase of the project will be to design a display system for the collection.  To read more about this type of storage and others to compare, read our blog post at Inside the Conservator’s Studio.



Curtain Survey, Harry S. Truman Home, NPS

Spicer Art Conservation, LL examined the textile window curtains used in the Harry S. Truman home in Independence Missouri. Each curtain in the house was fully surveyed, conditioned, storage solutions proposed, prioritized and possible reproduction fabrics identified. The work was performed both in the house during opening hours and in collection storage. 

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Here is a view of Harry and Bess Truman’s home today and with Mr. Truman in front. Possibly our last Citizen President. Harry and Bess on their wedding day. The couple lived in the home with Bess’s mother and extended family. It was not till after they moved back from the White House did they lived in the house alone.

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The survey of the curtain collections occurred in both the house and in storage. During the full week we had the best helpers from the site. Each of the curtains were photographed overall. Those in good condition could hang. However, the ones in poor condition were all documented flat on large worktables.



Suitable replacement fabrics were found for each of the room’s curtains.

Philip Johnson’s Brick House

Spicer Art Conservation, LLC examined and proposed treatments for the textiles in Philip Johnson’s Brick House adjacent to his private home, The Glass House. This is part of a house wide preservation project for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Glass House complex is a registered National Historic Landmark, considered one of the most significant architectural resources of the Modernist period. A video of the Brick House and the site can be seen on YouTube.


The Brick house is divided into two rooms, a large guest room with walls covered in Fortuny Fabric and a study or reading room. The fabric is a cotton twill that is dyed, printed, and highlighted with printed gild work. The interior design of the bedroom lead Johnson to use similar architectural elements in later projects. He placed the same pink and gold Fortuny Fabric (pictured below) in the woman’s bathroom of the Four Season Restaurant only a few years later. Johnson also placed Fortuny Fabric on the walls of the dining room of the Beck House designed in Dallas TX.

Detail image of the cleaning of the Fortuny Fabric.

Gwen Spicer gave a talk “Decoding the History of the Fortuny Fabric at Philip Johnson’s Brick House Interior” at the New England Conservation Association held at the Shelburne Museum in September of 2010. A summary of the talk can be read in the blog Inside the Conservator’s Studio.


Above left: View of the Brick House from the inside the Glass House. Above right: Front of Brick House with Art Gallery in the distance.   

Gwen Spicer examining textiles from the Glass House.