Do any of you remember the scene from Mommy Dearest, where Joan Crawford throws a fit because she finds a wire hanger in her daughter’s closet?


Here’s a little something to jog your memory:

While I promise not to “have a cow” like Joan in the film, I do want to stress the importance of proper textile storage in museum collections. And, since this is Museum Minute, this will be short and sweet.

If an item of clothing is strong enough to remain on a hanger, it needs to be sufficiently padded with proper “archival” materials. In other words, “no wire hangers!!”

Fun Fact: I put “archival” in quotations because there are no requirements in place to advertise something as “archival.” But, I continue to use the term because it’s an easy way to refer to the wide variety of materials that are sufficient for long-term artifact preservation.

To make a simple, padded hanger, you’ll need:

1. A metal or untreated wooden hanger

2. 100% Polyester batting (from the craft store)

3. Unbleached cotton muslin and thread

You can, of course, turn your normal padded hangers into super hangers by wrapping the hanger in Tyvek(R) and washing the cloth in Orvus, but for some simple hanger directions, click below:

National Park Service Conserve O Gram: Padded Hangers

Harpers Ferry Center

Philadelphia Museum of Art

This is fun activity for volunteers or interns to do, and can really help preserve your hanging textiles. Why don’t you help out your local museum or historical society by hosting a Hanger Bee?

And, last but not least, here’s a photo of me <gulp> eight years ago, modeling some freshly-made hangers at the Amherst Museum:

4 thoughts on “Hangers

  1. Remember, if in a pinch, old 100% cotton sheets can suffice, if one wants people to donate. Not as great as unbleached muslin, but might save a few extra bucks. One of the first things I did as an intern at a local museum (I was in my first year of college) was to look up padded hanger designs and then make it for the hanging clothing collection. I wonder if any are still used after 20 years!

    • Good suggestion. The great thing about the unbleached muslin is that it’s usually pretty affordable, considering the other supplies we purchase. I recently bought a couple yards for about $2/yard. There was a little left on the bolt, so they offered me the rest at half price. Ka-ching! So there’s a tip–seek out the bolts that are almost finished; you might just get a great deal.

  2. Pingback: On a Roll: Textile Storage (part I) | Museum Minute

  3. Pingback: On a Roll: Textile Storage (part I) « Museum Minute

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s