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WUPDAC Class of 2023 Fellow Margaret O'Neil vacuuming an early 20th-century, fur-trimmed cape for storage. (Photo: Callie O'Connor)
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Hattie Carnegie dress on padded bust hanger made by Margaret O'Neil. (Photo: Margaret O'Neil)
This fall I am interning at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) in New York City. As a lifelong lover of historic fashion, MFIT's collection is so exciting to work with. The Ann, Alison, Callie, and I are currently preparing for the next exhibition.
During this process, I have been lucky enough to work on some wonderful objects including a 1918 peignoir and nightgown set attributed to Lucille. This is one of my favorite eras of fashion and, with the delicate silk chiffon fabric and kimono inspired cut, the treatment was a treat to work on. I encapsulated the shattering silk ribbon binding with dyed nylon net and threads pulled from a dyed silk organza. It can be finicky work but creates an almost invisible support for the object. I also used dye silk crepeline to create underlay patches on areas of loss using the same pulled organza threads to create delicate laid and couch lines of stitching.
I have also been helping with the daily maintenance tasks around the lab including creating padded hangers for object storage (like the padded bust hanger pictured), condition reporting upcoming exhibition pieces, vacuuming items to be put back into storage, and doing my part for the weekly cleaning rotations. It has been absolutely wonderful to explore the MFIT collection.
Detail of a Lucille peignoir, c. 1918. Corner and loop treated with a nylon net overlay. (Photo: Margaret O'Neil)
Both my textile and preventive coursework have helped to create a foundation for my conservation skills which I have taken into this internship. I am so excited to expand upon my knowledge and gain new insights into treatments and the career of conservation. Callie, Alison, and Ann have been wonderful to work with and I will be sad to leave them in the winter for my next internship at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine also in New York City.
I have also been enjoying exploring the city with my friends, family, and fellow WUDPAC fellows. I look forward to going to many more museums, shows, and parks this coming year and soaking in all the city has to offer.
— Margaret O'Neil, WUDPAC Class of 2023