King of Persia Returns to Tapestry Room
Four episodes of The Story of Cyrus, the ancient king of Persia, were recently reinstalled in the Tapestry Room after a year-long conservation campaign that ensures their long-term preservation. The tapestries were cleaned, their weave structure stabilized, and new backing support systems attached at the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Belgium.
Visitors will notice a vast improvement in the tapestries’ overall appearance. Prior to treatment, a heavy layer of soiling that affected the clarity of the tapestries' imagery and masked the true depth of the picture plane. Today, facial expressions can be seen more clearly, colors pop, and the perspective that the weavers intended is once more visible. The successful removal of the heavy particulate soils also revealed design details that speak to the quality of the 16th century workshop in which the series was made.
In addition to cleaning, treatment involved stabilization of weak areas that strengthen the structural integrity of the whole cloth. Attachment of a new backing support system re-established the planar surface and helps mitigate the effects of gravity. Once home, new Velcro hanging systems were attached to the tapestries and they were rehung with a new pulley system that allowed the tapestry to gently float up the wall.
Click into the photo gallery below to see the restoration process, and visit the Tapestry Room in person to see for yourself!
The project was generously supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Visit the IMLS online to learn more about the organization and its Conservation Support Grants.
- Newly refurbished Tapestry Room.
- An episode from The Story of Cyrus (T19w2) is de-installed for treatment.
- Comparison of the front (top) to the back (bottom) revealed heavy soiling.
- The tapestry is vacuumed to remove loose soils before wet-cleaning.
- The tapestry is placed on a suction table to wet-clean.
- An aerosol mist charged with detergent is drawn through the tapestry to remove embedded soils.
- The tapestry is covered with blotting cloth after cleaning.
- Plastic is laid down over the blotting cloth and the suction is turned on to remove excess water.
- The tapestry is air-dried overnight.
- Colors are brighter after cleaning.
- Facial details once masked by soils are now visible.
- The removal of soils revealed different colored outlines around the hare, which indicate the tapestry was made in a highly-skilled workshop.
- The tapestry is re-installed on a new pulley system.
- An episode of The Story of Cyrus (T19e36) before treatment.
- An episode of The Story of Cyrus (T19e36) after treatment.