Ryerson Fashion Research Collection

Opening the closet door to a Canadian fashion archive


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Special Topics Course Class Visit behind the scenes at the Textile Museum of Canada

by Ingrid Mida

Behind the scenes with conservator Hillary Anderson at the Textile Museum of Canada

Behind the scenes with conservator Hillary Anderson at the Textile Museum of Canada

Recently we had the great privilege of going behind the scenes at The Textile Museum of Canada. This museum houses over 13000 textile artifacts that span 2000 years of history and their stated aim is to enhance the cultural understanding of textiles. Our guide for the morning was the TMC Conservator Hillary Anderson, who is an alumni of the School of Fashion at Ryerson University. She had interned at the TMC during her undergraduate studies and went on to earn her credentials as a conservator. She mentioned how useful her skills in sewing, draping and cutting were in creating custom mannequin forms and for the myriad of other tasks that a conservator has to do.

During our visit, we got a sneak peak at some of the pieces that Hillary worked on for the upcoming show called Home Economics: 150 years of Canadian Hooked Rugs that will open on 24th September 2015 and run until 8 February 2016.

Sneak peak at the hooked rugs and conservation supplies

Sneak peak at the hooked rugs and conservation supplies

We also had the chance to visit the storage facilities with Hillary where the students learned about techniques of storage for different types of objects. And we all marvelled at the colourful and joyful Festival Hats worn by children.

Hillary Anderson holding one of the Festival Hats from the TMC Collection

Hillary Anderson holding one of the Festival Hats from the TMC Collection

We rounded out our visit with a tour of the Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol exhibition during which time Hillary explained some of the challenges of mounting dress. She also recommended two books for anyone interested in this topic including  A Practical Guide to Costume Mounting as well as Textile Conservation.

These types of behind-the-scenes visits are rare and special treats, especially since museum storage facilities are often not able to handle more than a few people at a time. But what is even more valuable is when someone as busy as Hillary Anderson is willing to share their knowledge. Thank you Hillary and thank you Textile Museum of Canada. If you have not had a chance to visit the exhibition of Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol, do be sure to get there before 4 October 2015.