Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Hart's rug collection taken to the cleaners

Audry Taylor
Volunteer Audry Taylor uses a brush and vacuum to clean dust from a Navajo rug in the William S. Hart collection. Photo by Dan Watson/The Signal
[SEE ALSO: Hart Buffalo Coats Saved From Infestation , 2-26-2001]

By Stacey Klein
Signal Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

olunteers and staff at William S. Hart Hall spent the day Tuesday cleaning Hart's collection of Navajo rugs and rotated some new ones out for display.
    Every three months the rugs that have been on display are taken down and carefully dry-cleaned, while new rugs that have been stored away are put out for visitors to see, said Janis Ashley, an administrator at Hart Museum.
    "The rugs are surprisingly sturdy for how old they are," Ashley said.
    The collection of more than 50 rugs dates back to the early 1920s, said Beth Werling, collections manager for the Natural History Museum.
    The rugs are in good condition, but have signs of everyday wear and exposure to light, she said.
    "Also, insects have been chomping on them," Werling added.
    Volunteers Andre Motts, Audrey Taylor, Sheila Miller and Debra Ho — who was working as part of the College of the Canyons Service Learning program — cleaned the rugs by hand, using vacuum hoses and a brush to get dust out of the rugs' crevices. They also checked for unraveling and signs of moths or other insects.
    Rugs that have been on display since July will now be rolled up with acid-free paper and stored in a closet. A new batch of 16 rugs will now go up in the mansion, where they will stay until January.
    Ashley explained that they try to clean and rotate the rugs regularly to keep them in good condition, but noted that "light (exposure) damage is permanent and irreversible."
    "They're all gorgeous," Ashley said, citing a chief's blanket as one of her favorites. "They're all really neat."
    Werling said the collection is one of only a few from the silent film era that is still intact. "It's a time capsule," she said.
    "Mr. Hart left an incredible treasure," Ashley said. "It's our job to take care of it."

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