Conserving Textiles and Costumes in Southeast Asian Collections



Textiles and costumes are a vibrant part of the heritage collections in Southeast Asia. They attest to sophisticated traditional knowledge systems and complex worldwide trade relations, and have been intimately linked to issues of identity through time. Both historical collections and living heritage communities are custodians of ethnic, religious, military, historic and other collections of textiles and costumes. A shared understanding of material characteristics, manufacturing techniques, design elements, past and current uses, and accompanying social practices are the basis of sound conservation strategies.

Through the encounter between heritage professionals from different countries and regions, the course will promote new knowledge sources, skills and expertise exchange, innovation, creativity and collaboration. Strengthening collective self-reliance and developing the capacity to indentify conservation challenges and strategies together will improve the capacity of professionals to care for textile heritage in different institutional contexts. The course site of Guatemala is internationally renowned for the richness for its historical and contemporary heritage collections and practices.  It is an excellent location for exploring and assessing different preservation strategies and techniques.


Over this three-week course, the participants will explore the materials and techniques used in making textiles and costumes, the messages contained in the objects and their significance, the deterioration processes and storage and exhibition concerns that lead to long-term conservation strategies. Participants will also be encouraged to share traditional practices in their countries and to develop further research into innovative solutions to various conservation issues. The combined impact of new skills, international exposure and a broad variety of didactic tools will lead to sustainable conservation practices for textile and costume collections in different countries.


The intensive training activity will consist of lectures and interactive sessions, both in the classroom and by means of practical exercises in and around Antigua, Guatemala. The working language will be English.


The workshop will have up to 16 participants, with at least 3 years of hands-on experience with cultural heritage in museums, historic houses, religious communities and other specialized collections. The course team will consist of specialists from the ICCROM network and beyond.