THE ROLE OF CONNOISSEURSHIP IN DETERMINING THE TEXTILE CONSERVATOR'S TREATMENT OPTIONS
PATSY ORLOFSKY, & DEBORAH LEE TRUPIN
Since the last textile update session at the 1987 American Institute for Conservation annual meeting, textile conservators have greatly expanded their repertoire of accepted conservation and restoration practices. There have been scientific and philosophical advances as well as a greater willingness to embrace ethical restoration options. Many conservators, however, do not consider all of these new choices for all textiles. Why is this? What motivates a textile conservator to select a certain treatment strategy? On the surface it would appear that a decision to employ one option, just like a decision about any conservation procedure, is made through an objective technical evaluation of each individual textile, ideally uninfluenced by emotion, surmise, or personal prejudice. The authors believe, however, that there are, in fact, subjective, preconceived biases or cultural factors that inhibit or encourage us when considering certain treatments for certain textiles. This paper seeks to demystify the decision-making process by stating these biases clearly and describing how they affect treatment choices. In textile conservation, there is no interpretively neutral treatment.