Grass skirts are rehoused,

Grass skirts are rehoused, "wrapping up" loose ends

  • Post Date8/14/2017
  • AuthorChrista Deacy-Quinn & Gavin Robinson
  • Reading Time1 minute read

Our Collections team recently rehoused a group of 40 grass skirts and adornments. These artifacts, made and used in wet climates, often dry out and become brittle when kept in a museum’s low humidity environment. Any time these pieces are handled some of the brittle grass strands break off.

  • brown grass skirt with red and green bands
  • string and fiber fragments in an empty collections textile storage drawer

To determine if a skirt needed a new home we looked at each one individually, wrote a report on its physical condition and cleaned it.

  • a staff member paper to size to a grass skirt

Our rehousing technique involved the use of a specialized acid free tissue paper. This paper has three properties that came in handy; it has a fabric-like texture, a high tensile strength and is semi-translucent. We encased individual skirts in specialized paper to minimize abrasive contact. The pliable paper is strong enough to hold the skirt when being moved and the translucent nature allows the artifact to be identified without unwrapping it.

  • a student cuts paper from a long roll
  • two students wrap the grass skirt in paper
  • Red and green grass skirt visible through slightly transparent paper

After the skirts were wrapped and labeled, they were carefully stacked in acid free boxes. Between individually wrapped skirts an additional sheet of acid free paper was added so that separate layers were identifiable. After labeling the boxes, we returned them to shelves in storage.

  • wrapped skirt in a box layered with other items