Hat storage box designed by Lucy Commoner. The archival storage container facilitates viewing without physically handling the hat and the custom support under the hat can be used for exhibition purposes. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, New York. Photo: Matt Flynn © 2016 Smithsonian Institution.
One of the things I love about school is the opportunity to engage in activities that might have seemed aspirational in my free time, but are now required because of course requirements. For example, carrying out a historiography of fashion and textile conservation is a deep desire of mine, and so I give credit to my Bard Graduate Center professor Catherine Whalen who opened my eyes to the power of taking oral histories through her course on Craft in the US during the 20th century and the BGC Craft, Art, and Design Oral History Project that she leads. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to interview my former boss at the Cooper-Hewitt, Lucy Commoner, about her experiences as a textile conservator. I am ever grateful for my experiences as an apprentice under her, as she instilled in me ethical rigor combined with practical flexibility, and taught me the power of strategic compromise as a way to ensure conservators have a seat at the table. If you are interested in the preservation of textiles, then I hope you enjoy this interview with Lucy as much as I do.