Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant Awarded for Tapestry Conservation

The Gardner Museum has been awarded a $107,900 matching grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the conservation of a collection of 16th Century Flemish tapestries. The grant is one of 31 Conservation Project Support Grants given by IMLS, totaling $2,614,183. When finished, the tapestries will be returned to the museum’s Tapestry Room, which was recently reinstalled based on archival photographs from 1915. (Explore the Tapestry Room online.)

“Conservation and preservation has been one of the most integral components of the new building project,” said Anne Hawley, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Gardner Museum. “Support like the CPS Award helps to ensure that we can continue to preserve our works of art so they can be available for viewing by the public for many years to come.”

Isabella Stewart Gardner began collecting tapestries (37 total) in 1872, and continued to purchase them from dealers over the next 35 years. Some of the tapestries have been on continuous display since the Museum’s opening in 1903; others since 1915, when the tapestry gallery was initially installed. Two series, The Story of Cyrus and The Story of Abraham, was purchased from the Ffloulke Collection in 1905-06, and originally hung in the Barbarini Palace in Rome. Several bear the Brussels city mark and the weaver’s marks of Jan der Moyen.

The Museum will treat four of the tapestries to ensure their long-term preservation. Visitors to the Tapestry Room will notice that the first two have recently been removed. Once these return to the Tapestry Room, the second two will be deinstalled so that they can be cleaned and reinforced. Through cleaning, stabilizing the weave structure, and attaching new backing supports and hanging systems, the treatment will strengthen the tapestries’ structural integrity, counteract the effects of gravity, and improve their overall appearance.

Visit the IMLS online to learn more about the organization and its Conservation Support Grants.