Museums & Galleries Qld

Boonah volunteer, Karen Douglas, learns about textile conservation during an Internship at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Posted on: 20 March 2012

Karen Douglas, Volunteer, Fassifern District Historical Society

Karen Douglas, a volunteer with the Fassifern District Historical Society, Templin Museum in Boonah had a unique opportunity to gain knowledge in textile conservation during an Internship at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, NSW. Karen was a successful applicant to M&GSQ’s 2011 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program.

Karen talks about her experiences during her Internship:

I was very fortunate in that discussions with my mentor, Rebecca Pinchin, prior to my visit to the Powerhouse Museum had resulted in her tailoring the Internship to meet the specific needs of our historical society and our collection.


The activities I undertook were designed to look at an object from the time it first comes to the Museum, through to cataloguing, conservation and storage.


A major aspect of my placement was an introduction to the Australian Dress Register (ADR), and being permitted to attend the ADR advisory committee meetings. I was invited to bring a garment for inclusion on the ADR and subsequently learned how to measure, describe, annotate and prepare a garment for entry on the Register.


Everything I heard, saw and experienced during the Internship can now be used with our own textile collection and can be demonstrated to my fellow volunteers at a local level.


I gained knowledge in treating a variety of textiles, and specifically the storage of hats and clothing. I learned how to construct a variety of supports for hats; how to make supports for clothing while they are in storage; how to handle garments; how to prepare garments for display and how to dismantle a display; how to assess a garment; and how to do condition reports and complete documentation on a garment.


I was also able to glean information on how to better photograph garments for publications.


The contacts I made at the Powerhouse Museum will be invaluable as I continue to work on our own collection. The Internship was a brilliant way to learn good museum practice first hand.

M&GSQ’s pilot 2011 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program is funded by Arts Queensland through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). RADF is a joint Queensland Government and Local Government partnership to support local arts and culture.

Stay tuned to this blog and to the M&GSQ website, for an announcement about the recipients of the 2012 Mentorship, Exchange and Fellowship Program.


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