Tag Archives: Networking

Rethinking Textile Conservation- Series Lectures

Textiles are over 5 000 years old and common to all civilizations, past and present. A rich and diverse living heritage that comprises a multitude of materials, techniques, and shapes. Besides being a fascinating testimony of humankind’s ingenuity, textiles provide exceptional opportunities for the heritage sector to nurture innovation, promote respect for diversity, and public engagement. Textile production, trading, and conservation are inter-related topics that bring together multiple influences and areas of knowledge, providing a valuable medium for social cohesion and promotion of sustainable development. They encompass important overlapping aspects of tangible and intangible heritage, nature and culture, traditional knowledge and state-of-the-art research. Time is ripe for rethinking how we approach textile conservation. Simply safeguarding collections can no longer be our final goal. Conservation has to grow into an effective means to promote and sustain the realization of the full potential of our textile heritage.

The webinar organized by our colleagues from ICCROM, will bring together a diverse group of international panelists to share their views and experience on this topic. Their case studies include the journey of archaeological textiles from excavation to conservation, research, and community-based activities in China; the revitalization of India’s ‘Rafoo’ traditional culture of repair; the development of new digital tools in Europe to support creative industries taking inspiration from textile collections; and the role of conservation in the evolution and transformation of the Maya textile tradition in Guatemala.


  • José Luiz Pedersoli Jr, ICCROM


  • Zhao Feng, Director, China National Silk Museum
  • Rini Hazel Templeton, Research Assistant, National Museum Institute, India
  • Mar Gaitán, Research Assistant, University of Valencia, Spain
  • Barbara Knoke de Arathoon, Associate Investigator, Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, Guatemala

Link to the webinar

Join us on 25 November 2021. Registration is mandatory and FREE.


Weaving our Past into the Future

On the 14th October, SILKNOW had its final review meeting. All work packages were presented, after a discussion, the work done so far in SILKNOW was approved according to the EU standards. It has been more than three years of weaving our past into the future. We have woven a network with different users, from museums to young designers, from technology to traditional industries. All to protect, conserve and disseminate the important heritage of silk.  Here is a summary of what we have been weaving these years and why.

Silk has surrounded us for centuries, from royal beds to traditional costumes, from liturgical vestments to ceremonial flag. It has been everywhere, within the Silk Road,  but also beyond it. Silk weaving has shaped manufacturing cities and trade routes, engaging visual artists, engineers and multitudes of workers.

Community, identity, history…Tangible and intangible experiences, technology, knowledge, arts and crafts inherited generation after generation. It is a link from the past to the future.  This heritage is still alive, but it may die soon. The artisans who used to weave using traditional techniques and looms are disappearing. Valuable historical fabrics are endangered by their sheer fragility. But technology continues to be very close to silk heritage, even today.

“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

We have taken Ada Lovelace’s words as an inspiration to merge humanities and technology, in a team coming from six European countries. We have been working during three years to protect and disseminate silk heritage, weaving a net among academia, computing, arts and crafts, design, and creative industries.

Conferences, exhibitions, fashion catwalkstraining and capacity building programs, publications, all around silk heritage, have contributed to illuminate its important past, and its promising future.

In addition to that, we have created some digital tools

We have worked to create a unique resource, a thesaurus about silk in four languages, including one thousand words. It is based on many sources from across Europe,so that experts, museums, and just about anyone can delve deep into this knowledge.

Looking carefully at historical techniques, we have produced a digital memory tool, the Virtual Loom, that is able to weave on screen like a Jacquard loom does, giving the creative industries a chance for experimentation and business.

We have integrated the information from many museums bringing together data about thousands of objects around the globe locating them in time and space, giving everyone access to this hidden but precious heritage.

In short, we continue to weave the past into our future. Do you want to join us?

Related news:

From Museum documentation to digital data curation. Challenges and opportunities for open access.

Cultural heritage organizations produce a vast quantity of heterogeneous datasets which are often held inside their walls and are not open to the public. Even when they are, sometimes they are not easily accessible, for technological and organizational reasons. This has led to the loss of information essential both for the general audience and researchers. The problem gets worse when dealing with textile collections that require a high specialization to document and conserve them.

SILKNOW aimed to provide answers for some of these challenges, thanks to digital tools and approaches, combined with scholarly expertise (from silk specialists, art historians and historians, textile engineers…). One of its goals was to provide methods and best practices for heritage institutions that want to take their textile collections into the information and knowledge society. It pays particular attention to institutions that lack the technical resources and staff to venture into ICT and research.

Three workshops were held where the ultimate goal is to develop together a document of good practices in textile conservation.

The first workshop was held on 15th February 2021. It was attended by 13 professionals specialized in textile collections, some of them coming from 8 Spanish museums, such as:

The second workshop was held on 25th February and was carried out in Italian. It gathered representatives from 9 small museums, all of them belonging to Catholic dioceses: 

The third workshop was held on the 6th April, and gathered participants from Europe, America and Asia. The 15 attendees included representatives from 9 museums and one EU-funded research project, plus 2 independent scholars, including:

SILKNOW partners with ICCROM

SILKNOW is partnering with ICCROM, the IInternational Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, to participate in the Our Collections Matter programme.

This programme puts the spotlight on sustainable development in the cultural sector, recognising this as an important aspiration and responsibility among museums and other collections-based organizations globally. The programme aligns with the goals set out in the UN 2030 Agenda and embodies the same determination to make this decade one of concerted action and transformation, during which no one is left behind.

SILKNOW tools will be part of this international toolkit. Together, we will continue to weave the past into the future.

Silk & Design

We have visited the Hochshule Luzern – Design & Kunst, also known as Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences. There, and over the last years, a great team of designers, historians, textile specialists and web designers has developed silkmemory.ch, a web portal that offers abundant information about the legacy of Zurich silk industry. Their work and ours in SILKNOW has many aspects in common, so we took the opportunity to visit their new school and learn more about their project. We also studied some avenues for future collaboration, and ongoing mutual learning. Corporate archives of companies involved in silk textile manufacture, teaching materials for design schools, user experience of online catalogs, digital modeling of traditional weaving techniques… these issues and some others provided food for thought during a very useful workshop.

In the photograph: Andrea Weber Marin, Alexis Schwarzenbach, Tina Tomovic, Claudia Schmid from Hochshule Luzern – Design & Kunst and from Universitat de València: Cristina Portales and Jorge Sebastián.

Thanks to all of them for a warm welcome and many smart insights.

2019 General Assembly of the Silk Road Universities Network

From the 18th to the 21st September, Dr. Ester Alba, our Dissemination and Exploitation manager travelled to Kazakhstan in order to attend the 2019 General Assembly of the Silk Road Universities Network. This year’s theme was the “Role of Universities for Transforming Silk Roads into Peace Roads with Prominent Human Heritages” As Sungdon Hwang, SUN’s Secretary-General, said: “The most valuable lesson from the history of the Silk Road is that the key to peaceful coexistence and collective prosperity is to treat individual differences as a cause for celebration rather than segregation, best captured in Silkroadia-the spirit of ancient Silk Road.”

SILKNOW was also disseminated at the QS Worldwide International Education Forum: “Journey to Global Prominence: Harmony of Human Heritage and Advanced Technology” held at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. There, Ester Alba presented SILKNOW and how it will impact on civil society by preserving historical weaving techniques and bringing them to the future. She also introduced some of our Open Access publications and some research done by our coordinators, Universitat de València, regarding the Silk Road project.

In SILKNWOW we believe in learning from each other and protecting silk heritage as it is a unique example of heritage. It is a link of union between different places, peoples and ideas.

Let’s keep this spirit alive by realizing how precious cultural diversity can be and how we can learn from each other, and from ancient and traditional ways of living.