Strain modelling in historic tapestries

Historic tapestries are complex artworks given its unique hand woven structure changed by accumulative degradation and restorations in their history. These valuable artworks are affected by ageing and structural damage causing deterioration and loss of material affecting both its rendered image and structure.

This project is being developed under the realm of engineering applied in heritage conservation. In this project the focus is the historical tapestry collection at Hampton Court Palace and a collaboration between EPICentre, Historical Royal Palaces and IBM is in place.

This project targets how exposure to a tapestry's own weight together with fluctuation of indoor environmental conditions results in the structural deterioration and loss of material. The influence of moisture and temperature on stress and strain distribution in hanging tapestries is being studied to inform the best conservation techniques to preserve them. In situ tri-axial strain monitoring from IBM as well as experimental laboratory work is informing computational modelling techniques to model strain in historic tapestries.

The aim of this project is to inform how conservation approaches and hanging methods in use are preventing further deterioration on a tapestry structure. Furthermore the developing of methodologies of stress-strain analysis aims to inform on the prioritization of conservation strategies.