Date completed : 20 November 2017 Duration : 150 Weeks
Morwena Stephens

The projects to improve the preservation, interpretation and access to banners and flags in museums across Devon and Cornwall, were run through SW Museums Development, with Conservation Development Officer Helena Jaeschke ACR. This began with a 2012 survey to identify the need in museums for support in caring for banners and flags in their collections. The findings led to the development of ‘Flying the Flag’ funded by The Pilgrim Trust, to run ‘surgeries’ where museums could bring two flags or banners for condition assessment by a Textile Conservator, Morwena Stephens ACR, and where applicable a Paintings Conservator, Sophie Brummitt, and to be professionally photographed.

The survey and surgeries helped identify what Collections Care training and materials would be most useful for museums to meet the challenges of caring for their banner and flag collections. Training sessions were developed and delivered in the region bringing staff (paid and volunteer) from participating museums and historic houses together to share experiences and to benefit from practical training in caring for their flags and banners in storage and on display. Collection care materials were distributed during the training sessions, which demonstrated how they could be used. Several museums also had follow-up in-situ sessions to help them implement improvements to storage and display of their flags and banners.

SWMD developed ‘Raising the Standard’ to improve the research, interpretation, accesssibility and condition of banners and flags assessed in ‘Flying the Flag’ and with support from National Heritage Lottery Fund for these activities including community engagement events. I carried out the conservation of five banners as part of this project, working with Sophie Brummitt who conserved the painted areas. More information on the projects can be found by following the links below:

‘A Procession of Banners: Improving the preservation and interpretation of flags and banners in Devon and Cornwall, UK’. A lecture delivered as part of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Conservation Insights 2020 Series:

SW Museum Development project page:

An example of a painted silk banner assessed during the project
Assessing objects at a surgery
Condition of some objects assessed at a surgery
Illustrate a 'surgery'
Paritcipants at a workshop
A conservation project
Example of damage to an object
Conservation in action
After conservation

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