Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Volunteer Opportunity: Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

Hi all, Please share this with friends, students, etc - anyone whom you think would be interested.  Thanks for your help.  David

I’m writing to offer you a rare opportunity.  This semester I am supervising the day-to-day rehousing of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection into its new climate-controlled, state of the art permanent home in Nancy Nicholas Hall, UW School of Human Ecology. The collection is a rare gem and the majority of the items are seldom seen by a general public, so this opportunity to not only see them, but also handle them is quite unique.   
The collection has been packed away for 3 years while the building has been completed and we are taking the time to handle and re-measure every object, double checking everything against the database.  We are unpacking every box, checking its inventory and relocating things to their new permanent home, so they can be located easily.  Thus many fragile items that are seldom seen and more rarely handled are being unpacked, offering anyone with an interest in textiles a unique chance to volunteer in our endeavor. 
In addition, we have a short window to accomplish the storage of the approximately 13,000 items in the collection. We have a small group of dedicated volunteers who have been working since the fall on this and we are about 1/3 through the process.  Our goal is to have all the boxes unpacked by April 12, 2013 since we have a final completion deadline of May 10.  Thus I am appealing to anyone, on-campus or off-campus who has an interest in textile arts to volunteer to help.
Our weekday calendar is divided into 2-hour time slots and we are looking for volunteers who would come once a week or at least several times a month. Currently the times have been 11-1, 1-3 & 3-5, though we will try to accommodate anyone’s schedule if they are willing to help. Each volunteer is asked to commit to a minimum of 5 shifts, undergo a brief training about the handling of textiles, etc. and will work with a more experienced volunteer or intern at the beginning.  
Every day is a rich experience; each new box seems like a new series of gifts.  Much of the material is ethnographic (from all over the world) and dates from the 18th century through mid-20th century. The experience is appropriate for anyone involved with fiber whether apparel, quilting, art fiber, design, etc.  It will also appeal to those engaged with visual art, art history, library science, material culture, visual culture, ethnic studies, etc. 
This is a rare almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where the visual reward for your time is a very high payback. Please contact me at dhwells.wisc.edu to volunteer.  Please share this with others whom you think might be interested.
And most of all thanks for your help and support of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
David Wells

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