Behind the Scenes at The Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory: House of Worth Ball Gown

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, Glenn Petersen, conservator in The Met's Costume Institute, offers a close look at a House of Worth ball gown from 1898.

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Glenn Petersen: In conservation we usually avoid doing restorative treatments, but if there's something on the garment that misrepresents the way that it was intended to look, we will correct that if we can. That was the situation with this ball gown from 1898. It was made by the House of Worth, one of the top Parisian couture houses in the second half of the 19th century.

We have a silk brocade; we have the butterflies in a triangular design so that they fit the panels of the skirt. There are seams that run up the center-front and the sides covered with this ribbon design. Much of the applique had been lost. This was very distracting, so we added a silk fabric to fill in the losses dyed to harmonize with the dress. The silk tulle undersleeves had already been lost and restored, so we replaced it with new netting.

The result was very gratifying. We want the public to see the garment as a cohesive whole, rather than a damaged object.

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

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