European Tapestry Initiative

Medieval and Renaissance tapestries are among the most impressive and popular works in museums, but because of their massive size, light sensitivity, and fragility, their ongoing preservation requires special attention. Most of MAG’s tapestries came into the collection in the 1920s and 1930s specifically for exhibition in the museum’s great hall, where they were exhibited without interruption for decades. By 2000, only one tapestry was healthy enough to remain on view.

The European Tapestry Initiative began in 2002, when curators at the Memorial Art Gallery determined that the conservation of the museum’s collection of European tapestries was one of its highest priorities. Since that time, four 16th-century Flemish tapestries—Trellised Garden with Animals, Musical Game Park, The Nativity of the Christ Child, and, most recently, The Battle of the Animals (detail pictured above)—have been conserved at the Textile Conservation Laboratory of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Learn more about the history and conservation of The Battle of the Animals, one of the most exciting tapestries in MAG’s collection, and the other tapestries in the European Tapestry Initiative. Watch videos of conservators at work, and follow The Battle of the Animals tapestry through its conservation.


The European Tapestry Initiative has been implemented with financial support from the following organizations and individuals:

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • The National Endowment for the Arts
  • Dan and Dorothy Gill
  • Helen H. Berkeley
  • The Gallery Council

Additional thanks go to:

  • The Textile Conservation Laboratory of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, Marlene Eidelheit, Director
  • Dr. Carmen Niekrasz