Textiles and clothing

Textiles are particularly sensitive to light, so it is best to display them in a dimly lit space away from direct sunlight or spotlights. Too much moisture can also wreak havoc by encouraging the growth of moulds and mildews, while too little moisture in the air can cause fibres to dry out. The ideal temperature is 20º Celsius with 55 percent relative humidity. To monitor this, data loggers are best. Temperature and relative humidity meters can also be purchased from most electrical stores.

Protect your textiles from dust by vacuuming and dusting the display and storage areas regularly. If possible, keep textile objects inside a glass case when on display. Always make sure to keep the area clean and tidy so as not to attract pests and insects, and don’t allow eating and drinking in your museum space!

Try to handle your textiles as little as possible. You can wear cotton or nitrile gloves when you do, though clean hands are also acceptable with textile handling.

Store your items in a clean, dark, and well-ventilated space in a box or drawer. Don’t use plastic boxes if there is a lot of moisture in the air as plastic can trap moisture. It is best to use products specified as ‘archival’, such as archival corrugated board and boxes and acid-free tissue. It is better to store your textiles either flat or rolled up rather than folded. However, textiles can be folded as long as the folds are supported using acid-free tissue rolls. Hanging textiles is also an option, using padded hangers. If you want to clean your textiles, consult with a professional conservator.

Learn more about how to care for textiles and clothing:


Caring for Textiles and Clothing

(Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ)

Displaying, Packaging & Photographing Garments

(Australian Dress Register)

How to apply accession numbers to textiles

(Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ)

Your Museum Coach: Preparing textiles for storage

(BC Museums Association)

CCI Textiles

(Canadian Conservation Institute)

 Photo: Copyright Royal BC Museum.