What does it take to conserve khipus?

The Radicati Collection Conservation

MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Khipu,UNMSM Colección Radicati de Quipus, Fundación Temple Radicati - UNMSM (1400/1532)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Behind the Scenes of the Conservation Department

The Museo de Arte de Lima, as a result of the Khipus project, assumed the commitment to carry out the conservation and research of the khipus belonging to the Radicati Collection of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos.

Khipu, UNMSM Colección Radicati de Quipus, Fundación Temple Radicati - UNMSM (1400/1532)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

For this, a team of textile conservators with more than fifteen years of experience in preserving pre-Columbian textiles was convened in order to define a working methodology for the preservation of these pieces for their exhibition and storage.

Khipu,UNMSM Colección Radicati de Quipus, Fundación Temple Radicati - UNMSM (1400/1532)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Methodology

First, the mounting system was identified; some khipus arrived at the museum unassembled and others mounted on a frame; the latter were dismantled.

Khipu, UNMSM Colección Radicati de Quipus, Fundación Temple Radicati - UNMSM (1400/1532)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

Once the khipus were released, the cleaning was carried out; firstly, external agents were removed from the khipu with tweezers and then, it was dry cleaned with soft bristle brushes.   

Khipu, UNMSM Khipu, UNMSM by Inca CultureMALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

In some cases, a wet cleaning was carried out with humidifying chambers or with damp cloths in some specific areas to restore the deformations in the components of the khipu.  

Khipu, UNMSM Colección Radicati de Quipus, Fundación Temple Radicati - UNMSM (1400/1532)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

After cleaning, the khipus selected for the exhibition were mounted on a frame lined with cotton fabric and secured with crepelin or silk threads.  

Khipu from the Santa Valley (Ancash) from UNMSM collection (17th Century)MALI, Museo de Arte de Lima

The presentation of each khipu was defined by the size and quantity of strings, being able to be vertical and others semi-radially and radially; and with the approval of the researchers of the khipus.

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