Museum is material witness as cataloguing of textiles improved

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STAFF and volunteers at Bradford Industrial Museum are working to catalogue and create better storage for an important collection of textile samples.

Samples stored at the council-owned museum are invaluable examples of material that was produced by local textile mills between the 1890s and 1970s.

In many cases these can be matched to “making book” records, which contain the technical details of each piece, and offer a useful resource for designers and researchers.

The delicate items are currently stored in bags but at the end of the 18-month project they will be cross-referenced with the appropriate making book, given their own reference and be properly boxed and stored in a safe environment.

The work will lead to key pieces of the important textile samples being made more accessible to the public through the creation of both physical and digitised online collections.

It is hoped that the project will also help raise the profile of the region’s textile connection through the proposed creation of a West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Trail. This English Heritage-backed scheme will identify a number of collections, sites and buildings connected to the industry throughout the region. The trail will be a joint initiative with four partner museum services: Calderdale Museums, Kirklees Museums, Wakefield Museum and Gallery Service, and Leeds Museum Service.

Volunteers involved in the work are from a wide range of backgrounds. Many have had a background in the textile industry, but some are students coming to the subject for the first time.

Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green said: “This exciting project will give staff and volunteers the opportunity to check each individual textile sample within our collection. They will then be catalogued and conserved in a way that brings them all up to national museum standards.”

The work, which will be completed in late 2013, is being undertaken as part of a project that got a grant of £72,768 from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. It is one of six chosen by the Museums Association from 118 applications.