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2019 Regenstein Interns: Mat Project

Over 12 weeks this fall, the 2019 Regenstein Pacific interns were hard at work treating and housing the Museum’s large collection of woven mats from the Pacific. As part of this multi-year project, Regenstein interns Mackenzie Fairchild (Marist College - Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici) and Kristin Cimmerer (University of Michigan) were supervised by Regenstein Conservator JP Brown in the creation of new archival storage mounts for over 230 mats. They were able to complete the re-rolling of mats from Micronesia, over half of the mats from Polynesia, and began work on the collections from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The collections care provided by this project is crucial for the well-being and long-term preservation of the collections cared for by the Field: on their new storage mounts within the Collections Resource Center, the collection of mats will be better protected from dust and physical strain, as well as be more easily accessible to researchers and practitioners. Fairchild and Cimmerer also photographed each piece, another important step in increasing visibility and digital accessibility of these items.

During his recent visit to the Marshall Islands, collections manager Chris Philipp was able to share information and images with the Marshallese community on Majuro. In recent years the art form has experienced a resurgence in the Islands and weavers are increasingly interested in reconnecting with Museum collections so they can study examples of this work from their predecessors.

Conservation technician Mackenzie Fairchild performs treatment on a fragile fringed mat from Micronesia. Stabilizing very delicate areas of the mat allows it to be safely housed and returned to storage - in this case, flat and unrolled.
Intern Kristin Cimmerer rolls a narrow mat from West Papua, Indonesia onto an archival tube. Rolling reduces stress on the mats’ structure and keeps them from developing creases.
Photo by Mackenzie Fairchild. Marshallese mat, or jaki-ed, from Irving Channon’s 1907 collection.

Mats after re-housing, placed in permanent storage.


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