The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado has a large collection of Rio Grande textiles. With hopes of viewing some of these, I contacted Polly Nordstrand, their Curator of Southwest Art. I met with her and Michael Lorusso, Assistant Registrar regarding various aspects of collections management. We began with a review of their accessioning process, the TMS (The Museum System) relational database software, and cataloging procedure. We discussed research methods and interpretive labels for exhibits, for which they tend to use inquiry-based label writing, where a question is posed in the label text that is answered in the exhibit objects.
We viewed several of the large basement storage rooms that house pottery, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and textiles. Pottery sits in pot rings, made of flexible foam cylinders, hot-glued end-to-end. Larger pots with unstable bottoms sit in soft sand bag “snakes” so they will not tip over. Paintings are hung on rolling racks that look somewhat like sections of giant chain-link fence. Some of the sculptures are housed in cabinets, with larger pieces above. For pest management, they use sticky traps and new acquisitions are isolated for a period of time, sealed in plastic.
Textiles are stored in tall racks with pullout “trays” that hold a number of horizontal rods. Each rod holds a tube wrapped in archival paper. The textiles are rolled around the tube with archival tissue paper, to prevent transfer of grime or dye within the textile, and also to provide some padding. The rolled textiles loosely tied with cotton muslin, then wrapped in plastic sleeves, and the ends of the plastic are tied with cotton twill tape. The textile accession number is printed on a small piece of cotton muslin that is sewn onto the textile. A label, including a photograph, accession number, and object information, is affixed to the plastic sleeve. Although we did not pull textiles from storage, I did view a beautiful Rio Grande textile on exhibit, as well as the interpretive labels for the exhibit.