Re: Not sure how to care for fabric diplomas


Thanks for the question Leslie, the diplomas sound like interesting artifacts. You will definitely want to consult a textile conservator regarding the wrinkles and staining and advice on how the diplomas might be exhibited without further damaging them. You can locate a conservator on the American Institute for Conservation site (see Click on “start search” under the Textiles section. You may just wish to search by geography to find a textile conservator closest to you. Because you are not located near a large city, you may be able to take photographs of the diplomas and how they are framed and send those to a conservator for some preliminary advice.

If you won’t be able to get the diplomas to a conservator soon it may be possible to carefully remove them from their frames. I consulted a conservator for some instructions. You’ll want to take your time, proceed step by step, and make sure that you keep the textile supported throughout. Place the frame, diploma side down on a table that has been lightly padded a clean towel. First, examine whether the frame looks like it could easily be disassembled. If so, remove the nails other fasteners that are holding the backing in and gently push the glass up from below so that you are lifting the diploma, backing, and framing glass all out at once. This will keep the diploma supported. Then check to make sure that the backing cardboard can be gently lifted at a corner and that it’s not stuck or glued down. If the cardboard can be lifted off easily, then remove it and place a new piece of acid-free matboard or archival board on the back of the diploma. Then flip the glass/diploma/matboard over and investigate whether the glass is stuck to the diploma and whether it can be lifted off easily. If so, lift off the glass. Then transfer the diploma on the matboard to a flat archival box and store it flat. If at any point the frame, backing, or glass cannot be removed easily, stop work and just store the diploma face up in a flat archival box. This will at least keep it away from dust and light. Keep us posted!