This section of the website is devoted to textile collectors interested in preserving the beauty of their collections, donating or selling items to the TMC, gaining knowledge about textile research, and having items appraised. Collectors with a passion for textiles can look here for information and resources related to their own collections.
Conserving YouR Textiles
Caring For Textiles
While textiles may not seem fragile at first glance, they are in fact quite sensitive to their environment. Light can fade and degrade textiles as they age. Humidity can cause mould growth and fabrics can be stained easily. Moths and other insects eat woollen garments and damage any adjacent materials in the process, both natural and synthetic. Rodents are highly destructive to textiles which they shred and soil while collecting nesting materials.
Whether your textile is a rare antique collectable, a treasured family heirloom or just a favourite item of clothing or home décor, it is important to store and clean it properly. There are a number of online resources available which can instruct you on the proper care of your textiles. Some resources include:
The Canadian Conservation Institute is a federal institution that has a variety of information related to museum conservation and preservation on their website. Specifically, CCI Notes are small bulletins that discuss a variety of object care issues, from how to properly roll textiles to the effects of the environment on historical objects.
The National Parks Service in the US has a similar resource called Conserve O Grams. If you are looking for more specific information or are interested in how museums care for their objects, you should look at the NPS Museum Handbook, Part 1: Museum Collections.
The Costume Committee for the international conservation body ICOM has compiled an excellent web workbook covering many aspects of caring for and working with costume, lace, and other textiles. It is also a good resource to assist you if you are trying to identify a piece of ‘mystery’ clothing that you have inherited and would like to care for.
Supplies for the safe care and handling of textiles can be found mainly at specialty archival suppliers who are easy to access online. A few examples include:
A Selection of Local Suppliers
The Textile Museum of Canada provides the following list as a service for our visitors. The Museum does not regularly engage the services of outside contractors. Individuals should make their own independent assessment of any contractor. We do not warrant the information or services of the suppliers listed below. The list is not exhaustive.
Dry Cleaners & Specialty Laundry:
- Boyd's Cleaners, 727 Dovercourt Road, 416-536-1490
- Del Ray Cleaners, 586 Parliament Street, 416-925-7393
- Turco-Persian Rug Co. Ltd, 452 Richmond Street East, 416-366-0707
- Royal Antiques Rugs, 270 Eglinton Avenue West, 416-488-2029
- Akau Framing, 1186 Queen Street West, Rear Unit, 416-504-5999
- Art & Gallery Services, 345 Sorauren Street (1 street east of Roncesvalles Avenue & south of Dundas Street West), 416-534-7399
The services of a professional conservator should be considered for particularly valuable, damaged or fragile pieces. Their specialized knowledge covers not only the techniques in repairing textiles, but also preventive steps to help prolong the lifespan of fragile objects.
Conservators can be found on on-line directories. A list follows of some local professionals. You may also refer to the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators - a non-profit association dedicated to the maintenance of high standards for professional conservators in Canada.
Canadian Association of Professional Conservators
c/o Canadian Museums Association
Suite 400, 280 Metcalfe St.
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1R7
- Margaret Ballantyne (519) 534-5484 or (647) 998-4717
- Elizabeth Griffin (416) 203-1015
- Anne Marie Guchardi (416) 322-7844
- Ada Hopkins (416) 979-7799, ext. 241
- Joyce Whiteford (905) 839-1498
The type of cleaning and care a textile requires depends upon the fibre content and the condition of the piece.
There are several useful books on the subject that range from those written for non-conservators to those which are intended for those requiring in-depth information on textile conservation. The Textile Museum of Canada provides the following list as a service for our visitors. We do not warrant the information and the list is not exhaustive.
Preserving Textiles: A Guide for the Nonspecialist by Harold F. Mailand and Dorothy Stites Alig. Published by Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The Textile Conservator’s Manual, Second Ed. By Sheila Landi. Published by Butterworth-Heinemann.
Unravelling Textiles: A Handbook for the Preservation of Textile Collections by A. Brokerhof, Foekje Boersma, and S. Van Den Berg. Published by Archetype Books.
Laundry: The Whys and Hows of Cleaning Clothes by Robert Doyle. Published by Sartorial Press.
Some of these titles are available for reference in the Museum's H.N. Pullar Library or are for sale in the Museum Shop.
Donating your Textile to the TMC
Initially, you must contact our Curatorial Team so that they can assess the item(s). Kindly forward images of the item(s) to them along with a description of the textiles and what you know about their history.
Please send this information via email to:
Natalia Nekrassova, Curator, Collections and Research
or to her attention at our postal address:
Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 2H5
The Curatorial Team reviews each item presented for possible donation to the collection. If an item meets with our collecting priorities, you will be asked to bring the item to the Museum. Each item is assessed and must meet the approval of our Acquisitions Committee and Board of Trustees. An independent appraisal is conducted to assess the value of the piece and a tax receipt is issued for the value of the item. This process can take several months.
The Museum began collecting textiles in the 1970s and has amassed a collection of more than 13,000 textiles representing more than 200 regions of the world. As a result we are no longer in a position to accept every item we are offered. In general, we collect historical textiles that are primarily handmade or hand embellished including: rugs, carpets, clothing and accessories, household items, ceremonial cloth and a limited number of small hand tools.
We do not collect fashion garments (most 20th century western clothing, vintage wedding dresses and christening gowns), large tools and equipment (looms, spinning wheels, frames, and sewing machines), commercially manufactured textiles or archival records.
Selling your Textiles through the Museum Shop
You may also consider donating your textiles to, or selling them through the Museum Shop. To inquire about consignment opportunities, please contact:
June Lee, Shop Manager
Phone: (416) 599-5321, ext. 2233
The H.N. Pullar Library has a large collection of textile reference materials. The Library is open on a limited basis to the public and access is free with paid Museum admission. Visit the Library section of the Web site for more information.
You may direct specific research questions to Library staff: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of useful resources you may wish to investigate as part of your research, including local public and academic libraries, archives, community museums and other institutions with decorative arts collections. Additionaly, the Museum Shop has an excellent selection of books on textiles. If you are looking for a specific title, please email the Shop directly at: email@example.com.
The Textile Museum of Canada does not provide appraisal services. You can have your object appraised by a reputable auction house, appraiser or textile dealer. Consult your local telephone directory. The Textile Museum of Canada provides the following list as a service for our visitors. We do not warrant the information or services of the suppliers listed below. The list is not exhaustive.
Independent Textile Appraisers:
3286 Bellevue Road
33 Sussex Avenue
1231 Hammond street