Curtains Without Borders
Curtains Without Borders is a conservation project dedicated to documenting and preserving historic painted scenery. The painted curtains are found in town halls, grange halls, theaters and opera houses. They were created between 1890 and 1940, although on rare occasions, pieces painted after 1940 are also included in our inventories.
In 1998, thanks to initial support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a statewide survey was undertaken by the Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance to find and assess the condition of Vermont’s collection of historic painted scenery. I was working for VMGA at the time and thought there might be 25 curtains around the state, but the total number of historic painted curtains in Vermont eventually grew to 185.
I worked as a conservator for the Vermont Theater Curtain Project along with colleagues Chris Hadsel, Suki Fredericks, Michele Pagan, Emily Phillips, Pete Iles, and Wylie Garcia stabilizing the curtains so that communities could enjoy their historic backdrops into the future.
As the Vermont project came to a close, my colleague Chris and I formed a non-profit Curtains Without Borders to continue our work in neighboring states. Visit our website to see the “discovered” curtain of Maine and New Hampshire as well as to see some of the special working methods we developed over the years. A recent grant from the National Trust is funding a survey for Massachusetts – stay tuned to see what we find!
The New England wide curtains project has recently been documented through the publication of a book entitled Suspended Worlds written by my curtains partner Christine Hadsel. The chapter titled ACT IV was co-authored by myself and my colleague Richard Kerschner. The content of the chapter describes in detail the stabilization methodology that we developed over the past 17 years.