This jacket from Maison Martin Margiela was the starting point for MoMu’s research on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) in collaboration with MoMu & Centexbel (BE), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (US), MUDE & FCT NOVA (Univ Lissabon (PT). The jacket has a glossy surface finish which is a glossy effect as a result of a coating applied to clothing. This coating applied is usually TPU, one of the most difficult to conserve polymers.
From the very beginning, the jacket started to show signs of degradation. Based on this experience, further analysis of MoMu’s collection condition was conducted that proved that many other objects showed similar signs of degradation. The earliest examples were accessories from the 1960s. Despite the fact that most materials were TPU’s, we clearly spotted a difference in the way the objects degrade through the decades. More research on why and how these materials degrade so fast is of the essence.
The goal of this project is to deeper analyze and determine TPUs and to find a method to preserve objects with TPU coatings where a distinction will be made between preventive and active treatments. Preventive treatments allow museums to create an ideal environment for long-term preservation objects and active treatments is the intervention to consolidate the existing condition of the object. The project also allows fashion museums to build and sustain an international network around the topic of preservation of TPU’s in their collection and establish a platform for research, information exchange and enable capacity building