Battle of the Animals in the Conservation Lab

The conservation treatment of Battle of the Animals was a high priority of The European Tapestry Initiative. The tapestry entered the collection in 1926, and was displayed in the galleries of medieval and Renaissance art for several decades before it was taken off view in the 1980s. Almost five centuries of exposure to dirt and light, and the impact of gravity while hanging, had taken a toll. Some of the tapestry’s original brilliant and variegated colors of blue, yellow, green, and reddish-brown had faded to an overall gray, or monochromatic, tone. The upper edges and body suffered most from its many years on display; the weight of hanging literally pulled slits apart, where they could break open with the slightest pressure. In 2011, the museum received a grant to conserve Battle of the Animals from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Over the next 18 months, it was examined, cleaned, and stabilized at the Textile Conservation Laboratory of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.