BE­YOND SPRING CLEAN­ING: NEW YORK CATHE­DRAL’S TA­PES­TRIES GET 16 YEARS OF HIGH-LEVEL GROOM­ING

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD -

new york» The Cathe­dral of St. John the Divine just spent 16 years clean­ing and con­serv­ing its rare wall hang­ings.

Now the his­toric house of wor­ship is invit­ing the public to en­joy the fruits of its la­bor — “The Bar­berini Ta­pes­tries, Scenes from the Life of Christ,” which once graced the Vat­i­can and Euro­pean palaces. They were de­signed by baroque mas­ter Gio­vanni Francesco Ro­manelli; cre­ated by weavers for Francesco Bar­berini, the nephew of Pope Ur­ban VIII, from 1644 to 1656; and do­nated to the cathe­dral in 1891.

Cen­turies ago, ta­pes­tries were ap­pre­ci­ated not only for their beauty but also for be­ing a buf­fer against chilly palace walls.

The la­bor-in­ten­sive process used by the Gothic cathe­dral’s tex­tile con­ser­va­tion lab­o­ra­tory used den­tal probes, tweez­ers, a vac­uum with mi­cro­suc­tion at­tach­ments and a spe­cial 20-by-16-foot bath­tub. In ad­di­tion to re­mov­ing the stan­dard dust and dirt, the mas­sive un­der­tak­ing in­cluded work on ta­pes­tries that suf­fered smoke and wa­ter dam­age dur­ing a 2001 fire.

Seth Wenig, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Re­cently pre­served ta­pes­tries are dis­played in an ex­hibit at the Cathe­dral of St. John the Divine in New York.

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