One of the main objectives of the Carnival Institute is to acquire, conserve, catalogue and house carnival costumes and memorabilia. In 2006, the institute placed their first order of conservation, archival and storage supplies from the American company Gaylord Ltd. They use various sizes of acid-free storage boxes and acid free tissue, silica gel to absorb moisture, cotton gloves for handling artifacts, and archival cases for Vinyl records, CDs DVDs, photographs, film, slides, and tapes. The Institute has a collection of over a hundred and fifty costumes, stored in-house and at an off site facility. The collection includes traditional and contemporary costumes, large back-packs, headpieces, individual costumes, Kids costumes, banners and carnival memorabilia.
In Feb 2009 and 2010 they coordinated a conservation workshop for the Institute with Ms. Olivia Warrington. She is a full-time textile conservator in London and was able to conduct a teaching workshop for the institute as she is familiar with Trinidad carnival costumes. “Every textile must be supported at all times to avoid the risk of it coming apart under its own weight. The basic principle is to give maximum support by laying objects out as close to the horizontal as possible.” “Typical threats are dust, dirt, air-pollution and contact with harmful materials, light, pests, damp, sticky and careless fingers, accident and theft.”
The Institute has a working knowledge on the types and uses of basic conservation materials, chemicals and methods of storage, the workspace and equipment, handling, packing and unpacking, rolling, labeling, surface cleaning, colour-testing, display of costumes, such as on mannequins, making ‘sausages’ with the acid free tissue, and basic protective clothing. The institute has compiled a catalogue of conservation materials and their uses, and an array of conservation literature.
The conservation, documentation and storage process is slow, but consistent, and is an ongoing work in progress. They have been able to use their collection for many seminars, archival displays and educational exhibitions. Since the first workshop, the institute has designed a Condition & Conservation Report Form specific to their costume collection, and for providing for the needs of caring for their costumes. In cultivating this new contact with Olivia, and the ongoing support, it has provided inspiration and information on ways of conserving Trinidad’s carnival costumes.
The past 4 years of trial and error in conservation had been a learning experience, and they are responsible for the day-to-day care of a large collection. They have seen it improve by the monitoring and implementation as best as is possible, three tasks: maintenance, storage and display. In working with limited resources, the work is challenging, and tough decisions on what to do, and where space allows, how to do it is ongoing. Moreover, the institute has learnt how to balance, or find a middle ground between what is best practice and what is acceptable practice in the conservation of their Carnival costume collection.
Sample of the C.I.T.T. carnival costume collection
- 7 Fancy Sailor Costumes – Mt Hope Connection 2006- Down Mexico Way
- 2 King Sailor Costumes – Mt Hope Connection 2004, 2007
- 8 Sacred Heart Headpieces – Peter Minshall 2006.
- I Female costume Wild Orchid– 1 Female costume Moon Storm Masquerade 1998 – City of Atlantis
- Trini Revelers ’08 La C’est le Belair – 2 female costumes
- Trini Revelers ‘ 08 Que Viva Mexico- 2 Female costumes
- 3 female & 1 male Brian Mac Farlane ‘Africa’ 2009costume. Hausa Dancers, Africa, her people, her glory, her tears, Hausa Noblemen
- 1 large Fancy Indian costume & headpiece: Tribal Connections 2008
- 1 Male costume. The Great Mogul. By Kenrick Richards. 2008 . ‘All hands on deck’ A tribute to old-fashioned sailors
- 1 Male costume. Title: The Guardian of the gems. Kenrick Richards. 2008.
- 1 Female Headpiece. ‘Chaima’, 1 male costume & headpiece.‘Big Water’, 1 belt. ‘Banwari’, 1 female collar. ‘Floral Grove’, 1 masquerader give-away bag. Image Nation 2008. ‘La Brea’ Patrick Roberts
- 1 Female costume & Headpiece. Title: ‘Les Aristocrats’ Trini Revelers. 2007. Le Revolution Françoise.
- 2 Female costumes & 2 headpieces.Trini Revelers 2008. ‘Que Viva Mexico’
- 1 Female costume ‘Wild Orchid’, 1 Female costume. “Moon Storm” Masquerade 1998. ‘The Secret Garden’
- 1 Female Costume, Legends 2001.
- 3 Female costumes & 2 Headpieces Legends 2008.
- 1 Female costume & headpiece. Title: ‘Fetish’, 1 Female costume & headpiece. Title: ‘Mischief’ ScandalUs. 2004:
- 2 female costumes & headpieces - ‘Threads of Joy’ Brian Mac Farlane ’06
- 2 male & female costumes - “India” Brian Mac Farlane ’07
- 1 headpiece - “Nutmeg and soft candle” Arima RC Sch
- 1 female costume, back pack, headpiece -Jewels of the reef- Spoilt Rotten kids
- 9 headpieces, 1 back pack, 5 full costumes- The Joker is wild, ’06, Trevor Wallace
- 5 headpieces, 4 full male costumes 4 full females costumes,1 drum -Havana, ’06, Scandal-Us
- 3 female adult costumes - Genesis ’06,
- 1 adult male costume “The senators’ Band-Rome – Trini Revelers
- 1 Headpiece Sea Nymphs ’06 by Santos & Medina
- 1 Headpiece Neptune’s Treasure ’06 by Santos & medina
- 1 Headpiece ‘Mineral wealth’, Treasures of Montezuma.
- 1 Kids back pack – “Hibiscus” 2009 Kenneth Richards
- 1 Bee – From King Costume “How Sweet it is” 2009 Francis Stevens
- 1 Female Costume. “Put’, 1 ‘give-away’ bag for masqueraders. Harts 2009 ‘Persian Empire’
- Tribe ’06 –“What lies beneath’ band name 3 large female backpacks
- Tribe 2007 ‘Old time something come back again’: 1 Female headpiece. Cow Mas. 2 ‘give-away’ Tribe bags for masqueraders.
- Tribe ’07 – Old Time Something come back again – Midnight Robber, Imp, Pierot Grenade each 1 Male & 1 Female costume
- Tribe 2009 ‘Birds of a Feather’ : 1 Female headpiece. Title: “Caged Canary”, 4 Tribe masquerader’s booklets. 4 costume catalogues. 2 ‘give-away’ Tribe bags for masqueraders
- Tribe 2008 ‘Myths & Magic’ : 2 Female headpieces. Isis, 1 ‘give-away’ Tribe bag for masqueraders, 2 masquerader’s booklets. 2 costume catalogues. 2 Tribe calendars.
- 12 Steel Pan Panorama Banners