Watch the Restoration of the 500-Year-Old King Arthur Tapestry (Video)
Experts at The Met recently took on the task of revitalizing the King Arthur tapestry. Part of the “Nine Heroes Tapestries”, the King Arthur piece hadn’t been touched since it joined the Met’s collection in 1949. The textile, once concealed within chateau curtains in Normandy, arrived at the museum in a fragmented state. Skilled needlewomen carefully separated the historical remnants, revealing a puzzle of missing parts. Led by Kathrin Colburn and Kisook Suh, the team’s mission to restore the tapestry was not an easy one. First, they gently cleaned it with sponge application and wet-cleaning techniques. Then, modern fabrics were discreetly introduced to provide the tapestry with much-needed structural support, ensuring it could withstand the rigors of public display without compromising its authenticity.
The selection of Finnish yarn, a close match to the original, showcased the team's dedication to preserving the tapestry's essence. This collaborative effort, drawing upon decades of expertise and a treasure trove of dye recipes, highlighted the delicate artistry of the original weavers. The tapestry's subtle shade effects, achieved through intricate weaving techniques, were akin to medieval pointillism. Today the tapestry hangs as The Cloisters and is on view in gallery 18 where the public can finally enjoy it in its renewed splendor.
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Top image: The King Arthur Tapestry. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain.
By Robbie Mitchell