Explore behind the scenes at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory, where objects in the collection and exhibition loans are expertly conserved. In this video, Laura Mina, associate conservator in The Met's Costume Institute, offers a close look at an 18th-century court suit.
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Laura Mina: This is a man's suit from the 18th century that would have been worn to court in the final days of the French monarchy. This is the white tie of its time period. The silk velvet is woven with stripes, so you see this pink ground fabric behind.
My job is to make it strong enough that it can be exhibited. The lining gets a lot of wear and tear as it goes on and off of mannequins, so I'm using new fabrics and new stitches to make it structurally stable and strong. Then there's an overlay of sheer fabric that will protect the original material from an abrasion, and future researchers can still see that original material even through the conservation work.
On the waistcoat the fabric around the buttons split so I sewed them closed. A lot of the needles that I used are curved needles designed for eye surgeons. The tailor and the embroiderer used fabric, needles, and threads. I'm using the same three materials, so I see myself as the continuation of the work that went into the suit, and I'm just helping it travel into the future.
Director: Kate Farrell
Producer: Sarah Cowan
Editor: Sarah Cowan
Cameras: Kelly Richardson, Stephanie Wuertz
Lighting: Dia Felix
Production Assistant: Skyla Choi
Original Music: Austin Fisher
Produced in partnership with Google Arts & Culture