A Fortuitous Journey

Center of Southwest Studies Museum

Back in June 2018, prior to beginning my Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center Internship at the Luther Bean Museum, I had the good fortune to accompany Tawney Becker (my mentor for the internship and currently serving as the museum’s collections manager) and Amy Kucera (museum committee member) to visit the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. We met with then curator and conservator Jeanne Brako, whose area of specialization is weavings and textiles. We briefly toured some of the exhibited weavings and made note of display methods. The bulk of our day we spent reviewing their database structure, as a preliminary to possibly using a similar software. Midday we enjoyed lunch on campus with Jeanne and some of her staff. After finishing with the database review, we returned to weavings. We had brought along the Luther Bean Museum’s most recent acquisition, a Rio Grande weaving, to show Jeanne and garner her insight into the period, fibers, dyes, and region of origin.

Lopez Weaving of the Luther Bean Museum

It was a treat to see the textile removed from its wrapping and set out upon a work table large enough to hold it. Of course we all wore cotton gloves to handle the piece. After this, Jeanne took us down to their museum’s large basement storage area, specifically to view their storage methods for weavings and textiles. (What a pleasure and a luxury to have so much space in which to store a large collection of so many varied objects). The tall, wide, heavy-duty steel storage racks for textiles can each accommodate probably several dozen large weavings, each wrapped around its own horizontal pole. Each is securely covered against dust and insects. We also inspected some of the mounting hardware used to hang the weavings. The Center of Southwest Studies houses a wonderful museum and I hope to return to spend time among the exhibits.