Calendar Pages -- Lecture: Conservation Challenges and Rewards: Teaching Textile Preservation in the Kingdom of Bhutan

November 13th, 2007

Lecture: Conservation Challenges and Rewards: Teaching Textile Preservation in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Lecturer: Julia M. Brennan, Founder, Textile Conservation Services, Washington, D.C.
At 7:30 p.m.
Siam Society, 4th floor
131 Soi Asoke (Sukhumvit Soi 21)

The Thai Textile Society in collaboration with The Siam Society and The James H.W. Thompson Foundation, is pleased to present a lecture on “Conservation Challenges and Rewards: Teaching Textile Preservation in the Kingdom of Bhutan” by Julian M. Brennan. Ms. Brennan is the founder of Textile Conservation Services in Washington, D.C. and a former Assistant Conservator for Exhibitions at The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.

With illustrative slides, Ms. Brennan will discuss her experiences in teaching textile conservation and preventative collection care in Bhutan. The Getty Foundation and The Friends for Bhutan’s Culture funded training workshops in 2000, 2003, and 2004. The workshops were based at the National Textile Museum in the capitol city, Thimphu, the National Museum in Paro, and in selected rural monasteries. These training programs were the first of their kind in Bhutan, and helped to establish sound guidelines for long term care and storage of Bhutan’s magnificent textiles. This year, Ms. Brennan returns for a follow-up workshop, designed to train monks in the care of religious and sacred textiles in the monasteries.

Educating participants in preventative conservation is the core goal and foundation of these three projects. Using monastic and museum collections as living laboratories, participants establish guidelines for cataloging, condition reporting, treatment, storage, pest management and environmental monitoring. The collections range from 17th century sacred textiles or “relics”, protected by religious prescriptions and use, to 20th century “everyday” textiles that are often discarded and replaced as dictated by cultural customs.

Ms. Brennan will explore several case studies that illustrate the unusual barriers and solutions that are part of the challenges of Himalayan conservation. In addition, she will review five years of improvements to the Textile Museum’s storage, from the establishment of the first storage rooms and the development of roller racks to the recent use of anoxic, or oxygen free storage.

Ms. Brennan has worked in the field of textile conservation for twenty years. She established Textile Conservation Services in 1996 to serve private collectors, galleries, museums and institutions. Textile Conservation Services specializes in the stabilization, cleaning, display and installation of textiles.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, her early training included six years apprenticing in a private atelier in Philadelphia. She spent the following six years at the Textile Museum in Washington DC.

Ms. Brennan frequently lectures to historical societies and collector groups on the care, storage and display of textiles. She is passionately committed to conservation outreach, both locally and internationally.

In addition to her work in Bhutan, she conducted a textile conservation training workshop and mounted a national exhibit of historic 19th century textiles in Antananarivo, Madagascar in 2005 with the support of the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. In 2007, she led textile conservation training at the National Bardo Museum in Algiers. She does on-going contract work in metropolitan Washington for the Smithsonian museums, the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, The Kennedy Center, and Tudor Place.

A donation of 100 baht for members of the Thai Textile Society and The Siam Society and 200 baht for members of the public is suggested.

For additional information, please contact the Thai Textile Society at

Ms. Brennan maintains a website at