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tv   Conserving George Washingtons Headquarters Tent  CSPAN  November 13, 2016 2:25pm-4:01pm EST

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the magna carta is the document he has been asked to do it -- to preserve. >> when philadelphia's museum of the american revolution opens in april of 2017, 1 of their central artifacts will be george washington's headquarters tent which served as his sleeping quarters and office for most of the war. next, a textile conservator, structural engineer, and the museum's vice president of collections and exhibitions discuss the history of the tent, how it survived, and techniques being used to conserve and eventually display the fragile artifacts. the museum of the american revolution hosted this 90 minute event. >> good evening, everyone.
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we're going to have a nice time talking about george washington's 10 tonight. we have an engineer, a structural engineer here and a textile conservator who are part of a larger team. as a very smart woman once said, it takes a village and was a large village involved in the project you are going to hear about tonight. freeu have questions, feel to grab any of us. this evening, we are going to divide comments into three sections. i'm going to talk about the history of the object itself and when we contemplated beginning putting it on display and alice will talk about the engineering challenges of trying to take what is the most historic and
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object sinceextile the star-spangled banner that has been placed on display in a new museum. so to face the unique challenges of this unique textile object, we will talk about the challenges of conserving that object and preparing it for display and how we knitted together the history of the engineering and conservation science to engineer the preservation of this historical object. where does the story begin? place ton incredible talk about this subject and as many great authors will talk about, there is not a beginning or ending. you pick an arbitrary point and you either look forward or look back or pick a few points and have them all mixed together. outcould start the story the window right behind you on 3rd street.
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down 3rd view looking street and on the left, that the open plaza right in front of the museum of the american revolution is located. theou can make out neoclassical front of the bank, that is the building right behind us. wasbuilding right behind it the home of the evening bulletin, which in august of 1906 published an article on a fascinating interview that had taken place with mary custis lee, the general -- the daughter of general robert e. lee who announced sacred relics that sold, tenseo be used by general washington to aid the confederate widow's home which was operating the enrichment. were to look directly
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across the street, you would recognize the corner of fourth and chestnut, a hotel there now, but sitting on the corner, if you were here in 1776, that was this lot right here. on the corner here was probably the best named shop in the world, most appropriately named shop, punk it flee some had the sign of the easy chair at the corner of fourth and chestnut. he produced many of the most ,uxurious upholstered furniture many of the types of objects you the philadelphia museum of art and was involved in producing drums and colors and flags at the time when the
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american war of independence was about to begin. another point in our story. building behind you was the location in june of 1775, a young virginian, george washington, received his commission. his commission from the continental congress to be commander-in-chief of the forces , the united provinces of north america, the united states, eventually. place where we will go back to june of 1775 and george washington receives that commission here in this neighborhood. he is almost immediately escorted out of philadelphia, rides up the east coast, goes through new york city where the
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new york provincial congress writes him a letter congratulating him on his appointment as general and remind him they expect him to go back to virginia and not do as many generals had done and crown himself at the end of the war and crown himself caesar or king. this is when he writes his famous letter that when we took up the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen. the idea of creating the citizen soldier right here. british done by a officer by the seas -- the siege of british washington. you see british occupied boston here and the ring of fortifications all the way from dorchester to cambridge to ringedton here that british occupy boston. was the destination
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washington was headed to in the summer of 1776. this was the portion of those lines commanded by general washington himself. it was very uncertain what would happen during the summer of 1775. is a result of the battles of lexington and concord and mostly new england troops rushed in and around, bottled up the , but everyoneton expected whatever settlement would happen what happened quickly in that season. but this was not the case and by the winter of 1775, the realization dawned that this war is going to continue for at least another season. this is a portrait by charles wilson feel. they really made a family business of painting george
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washington. washington sat for this painting in the neighborhood here in the spring of 1776. it was commissioned by john hancock and is now in the oakland museum, but it will be here at the museum of the american revolution for the summer we open. you see this portrait painted here in the neighborhood but if you see the blue-ribbon over his he actually located the original sash. the only original document he's of washington's uniform from this part of the war will be displayed with the tortured. ofonel joseph reed philadelphia, and aid to camp to washington, we have a wonderful letter to read.
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as fall turns into winter, he comes back to philadelphia to act as a liaison. also to try to get organized for the next campaign. there's a wonderful letter in march of 1776 that i think the as the washington citizen soldier and republican general who will remain with his army. a don't know at the time, 48 long years before he will return home. he writes i cannot take the field without equipage, meaning cap equipment and tense. once i have gotten into a tent, i will not put it. wasn't inc. he knew what he getting himself into. 3, 1776.arch that letter sends him on a journey to get a set of camp equipage set up for washington
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and that brings us across the street. is theu see on the left receipt for much of that equipment. reads making a large dining ofquee and making a tent ticking arch. what is a marquee? oris essentially a large rounded and tent. these are 18th-century british military publications. you see one with an end entrance imagine an entrance at either side. we know washington's first set of marquees.
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he had the tent with a double front and in and entrance. he would use this as his mobile field headquarters through successful campaigns in the war of independence. this is walter stewart, but there's a wonderful vignette in the background that gives a sense of scale that gives tense used in the front. tent that would have been occupied by the kernel or commander of the regiment or field officer all the way up to general washington. washington used that set of tense through the campaign of 1776. washington crossing the delaware, that's a good reminder whereas the usual practice would
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orders, theo winter army stayed out in the field in 1776 into january of 1777, so that got a lot of hard use. 1777, we see of many soldiers and officers in the continental army and increasingly as the war goes on, foreign officers who comment or record this image of washington among his soldiers in the tent. his act -- his excellency, or good old general has spread his tent and lives among us. this is a significant gesture because most soldiers, the commander-in-chief is a distant presence, a lot of turnover with officers rotating back home in the winter or going back and being relieved in the case of the british army. washington staying in the field,
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so this lovely painting painted in late 19th century captures that image that comes through many of these written accounts, washington in his tent, writing his dispatches among his soldiers. that continues through the campaign of 1777 and this famous image, the march to valley forge in the museum will be on display in the museum, it captures the armyign of 1777 where the remains in the field until it marches into valley forge on december 19 of 1777. that washington remained in that marquee until .is soldiers were undercover he made a somewhat implicit promise here. this is from his general orders issued two days before the
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margin to valley forge where he issued an order that he would partake in every inconvenience. of 1778, that original pair of marquees seems to have worn out, particularly campaigning into the cold, wet season. the canvas never dries out and starts to rot and fall apart. early in 1778, we have a well-documented process by which a second set of marquees was reduced by the quartermaster's department and delivered to him just a few days before the army marches out of valley forge, six months after the march in of 1778. remarking on are truly republican general -- i want to beat a dead horse and repeat that phrase because by the middle of the war, this is an 1780,produced in paris in
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that image of washington in the tent, that republican general, he does he -- he who does not threaten the republic becomes the glue holding together that revolutionary movement and it is fascinating to people throughout the world, particularly throughout europe who are interested in this experiment of self-government happening here in the united states. we should remember that washington was not the only occupant of these marquees. this is a painting produced during the war and you can see arhaps a portrait or just symbolic representation of william lee, the enslaved african american valet who accompanied washington throughout the war and was an expert horseman. if there is anyone's book we would love to read about the war of independence, it would be william lee. he was so used up by the
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physical experience -- he suffered physically from his service. he was the only enslaved person washington freed immediately upon his death and then provided for the emancipation of other african-americans who belonged to washington after martha washington's death. william read, he freed in his will. he lived under that canvas with washington, so not unlike philadelphia's president's house, i want you to think of this tent as a piece of architecture because it has ephemeral,oms, it is being made of canvas, but it is every bit as much a house of washington as mount vernon is. this is washington and notice a trope developing here -- canvas in the background of general washington.
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this is commemorating the successful siege of yorktown and showing a surrendering british soldier between a french and american soldier with a canvas showing washington as the republican general in the tented field in one of the first, complex, engraved maps of the siege. you can see a detail representing washington's headquarters as the marquee tent in the field during that siege in september and october of 1781. foreign officers increasingly are going these comments about washington and the significance of washington remaining in the field. one of the most explicit examples is from this officer who was part of the forces that march from rhode island right down chestnut street and down to
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virginia in 1781. ,his is the following summer the last significant encampment of the continental army. ithington brings it out and is across from west point on the hudson as troops are marching back to new england. time the whole kit and caboodle was all together in this officer observed washington was on the verge of taking the house and to use it as his headquarters. much admired even the foreigners could not resist their admiration. this is an image of washington that he set for at rocky hill in
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new jersey, the last encampment of november 1783. it is an image washington himself referred to as not very flattering, but much like. washington said the family considered this to be one of the most accurate depictions of washington's appearance, so i love this painting because unlike many of the other works, whether it is stewart or trumbull, i do love field. here, youen see it can cnn go of the impact of staying in that tented field on his face. ins painting originally hung the powell house, right down 3rd street, for those of you who are locals. and on be on loan
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the museum and if you come next summer, you can see those two portraits. we call them the alpha and omega of george washington. we remind people that we are used to looking at what happens to lincoln and now every president, when i see president barack obama and the weight of being commander-in-chief is something none of us will ever have any idea about but you can see it in washington's base there. washington's face there. that commission he had received in june of 1775, he returns to congress in annapolis of 1783 home tos quickly annapolis to arrive on christmas eve. exchanges one house for another.
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christmas of 1783. did you like that transition? equipment which is old, moldy canvas and mahogany polls and walnut folding stools it's soway, but important and is recognized as having great political significance, symbolic significance for washington as a republican general. it's one of the flanking buildings there at mount vernon and we know from a letter washington writes during his presidency, after he writes to a nephew of her seeing operations and asks him to pull his old quitman out and air out the tents and care for this material. i don't inc. it just because he to care forand want
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everything he owned. i think he thought of it as he thought of his military papers -- he was careful to make sure they were carefully transcribed and reserved. significanceon saw to these old tents and items. the story then moves to another generation of the family. you will probably recognize the washington family painted at the that.f this is martha washington's natural grandson, george washington park custis. by martha washington's first marriage through her son, jackie, who died shortly after yorktown. this is his son who would become the custodian of military equipment items after the death
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of martha washington in 1802. this is him in the early 19th century in an early military uniform and a building that may be familiar to you. i was taken to arlington national cemetery as a kid and taken to the tomb of the unknown soldier and i thought it was just a muslim, but that's the home built by george washington parke custis and inherits a great deal of wealth, including over 200 enslaved african americans. , he martha washington dies builds arlington house and brings into that house many of the items that had been at mount washington, and that included those old tent. what you see on the upper right our newspaper articles beginning at about 1805 or 1808.
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george washington parke custis would have an annual sheep shearing competition. he was trying to improve the american breeds of sheep and domestic manufacturers. this is pretty strong back into this era and he would bring in the sleeping tent and dining tent and decorate them insist in them with flowers, hang a portrait of washington and there would be 100 people seated under that canvas and he would give long oratorical performances. you can follow the evolution of the reporters as they get word from year-to-year. initially, they will report the whole speech and after five, 6, 7 years, they would say george washington parke custis gave a long speech. andthrough the war of 1812 through the 1830's comedies tents had another life commemorating george washington. you see a image of them pack the
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and one of those large duffel bags in the museums collection. many of the polls survived. this is an image of george ofhington parke custis, one those people who lived long enough to be photographed. shortly before his death in 1857. a handwritten story about washington's tents that he wrote. , buts a collector himself interviewing people who were older people who had known his grandfather. we have a wonderful portrait of the way headquarters may have been from a man who had served as an officer in washington's commander-in-chief's guard. this is a company of about 100 men who provide a security detail and put up tents and took
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care of all that equipment. nicholas told custis that even when washington was quartered in a home, headquarters is filled with all sorts of hustle and bustle. you have alexander hamilton arguing over something and copying letters -- if you need a quiet place to go, you need an office to go to. so he would have this tent erected in the yard next to one of these homes and he gave strict orders that he was not to be disturbed when he was under that canvas. no one would approach that canvas unless he came to the door and was ready to be disturbed. that was the first time when i read that and thought about the shape of the tent and we started referring to our tent as the first oval office. no connection to the white house oval office, but i think it works as a metaphor for what the space was for washington.
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the first real danger to this tent happened in the 1840's when some elements of it started to deteriorate enough that george washington parke custis started cutting pieces of it up and presenting it to people as souvenirs. in 1844, he gave a large piece ,f the inner sleeping chamber this twill woven fabric, he presented it to the national museum, now the smithsonian in washington. is a little garbled with it. it was not presented by the ladies of boston. we think it was sent to a recipient in boston. we have managed to track down a couple of these pieces. this was at the van cortland house, a national society of colonial dames in new york and they were very skeptical.
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relicay we've got this but every historical society says they have something that belongs to george washington and virginia was able to compare a thread town and i think we have actually located on the original object where it was cut off. 1850's, not sure what is going to happen. it might turn into a bunch of little scraps of patchwork quilt. but george washington parke custis dies in 1857. mary's ther in 1838 dashing young robert e. lee. when the troubles between the north and south erect in the 1860's, this house at arlington was the house of the confederate general robert e lee. it overlooks the federal city
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and union troops occupy it at the beginning of the civil war. this is an image shot in 1862 where you see federal troops standing on the front porch. tent iservation of the a woman named selena gray. this is half of a stereoscopic image and an eagle eyed volunteer spotted this on ebay. it's a stereoscopic image labeled slaves of the lee family, but they were able to identify selena gray. for maryhe chambermaid lee and lived in the house and was entrusted with the keys to all the locker rooms where all of these items had been stored when robert e. lee and the rest of the family fled.
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things like silver paintings, , theents were taken away tents and military equipment, a lot of the porcelain service given to martha washington was still there. so, selena gray protected this until she could not keep the soldiers out. one day they found one of martha washington's plate smashed in the front yard. there are books that have survived from mount vernon which were taken away. she turned the keys over to the general irvinor mcdowell and you see them on the right. ordered all ofho these washington relics to be -- isto washington dc that a commercial pause? there we are. in while the grounds are
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starting to become a real place for the fallen. taken into the national portrait gallery and they were kept there until 1883. they were placed on display and union forces claiming the mantle of george washington by the physical possession of these objects. you will recognize some of those portmanteau's, the rolled up duffel bag brought here for the centennial exhibition. stayed in federal custody arguingmary custis lee this was not property of robert e. lee. this was her personal property and it was not until president mckinley's administration that
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this material was returned to the lee family. a little bit of genealogy here. the last surviving child of robert e. lee and mary ann randolph custis was mary custis lee. she died in 1918. she was last surviving child. items,he return of these she becomes this custodian, aanks to the research of volunteer who was with us for many years and recent graduate of the winter program who did a thesis on mary custis lee, we know a lot about her desire to illustriousher ancestors, particularly george and martha washington by carefully selecting where items would be placed after her death.
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fortunately for us in philadelphia and people around the nation, she interviewed down the street and in this evening where she wasle interviewed while she was scandalously bathing in the sea ,nd traveling unaccompanied which was quite a thing for a young woman to do, we have come a long way. in that article and a subsequent relics ofout the george washington, you can see right here she actually has the photograph taken of the tents set up on the lawn so that when lawn, the green area has the tents out kind of advertising she was looking for proposals for an appropriate institution to take the preservation of one or both of these tents on. the article from 1906 and which
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is ironic and lovely, she thought there was no place she would rather see one of those tent than independence hall besides the liberty bell another historic objects. she said she did not feel mount vernon was the place for these. it was a separate story and she theght philadelphia was appropriate place for people to come sees objects. to the 20thus century. her offer came to the attention of an episcopal minister. the right is a picture of merry christmas lee in 1914 just before her passing. in a correspondence that stretched over several years, burke raised enough money and $5,000ey down on a purchase price, no small sum of money.
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these are letters from people around the nation sending a dollar, five dollars. mastera he would write these letters -- he would say -- you are a patriotic american and that you would surely give us a dollar to preserve the home of george washington. he was eventually able to raise that some of money to secure its place. there is actually an image of a case that was built that was so large he could only display the roof there. this is a custom display case , probably photographed in the 1940's showing it original , installation. he would actually sell tickets. you could pay $.15, and the removal of the coupon would terminate the privilege of admission, lovely phraseology. it was later raised to $.25.
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nickels, dimes, and dollars, eventually in a real crowd funding way, the tent was secured and display at the -- displayed at the washington memorial chapel in valley forge for nearly a century. there were also souvenir postcards as a. he had it photographed in the snow. the conservators will not allow us do that anymore. so, probably in the winter of 1910, the photograph was taken and sold to support the purchase of the tent. so, that is the history of the object itself. when i begin work on this , weect about 10 years ago had the tent. it'd been displayed for many years that only at the chapel but also at the valley forge historical park. it has been taken down for conservation. there had not been a lot of new, primary research of tracking down the historical sources about its production and use.
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where different parts of it that were no longer associated with it had gone. because one of the problems was that no one really understood which bits that ended up at arlington house went with which bits. so, the result is, and it should sound familiar to those of you preservation, was that it had become scattered. so, we started a survey and to look atoject period sources and images. what were the the variety of tents made in the 18th century? so, we had images of these marquee tents. we also look at period sources -- like those are two receipts from philadelphia for other camp equipage. we also started cataloging -- going out to collections whether it was just a little fragment of cloth or a pole or other pieces,
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we started cataloging. we referenced every -- we found every reference we could find in the washington papers. there's just a lot of good old fashioned thumbing through books that happened with this. so, we fleshed out a great context for the tents. also, just examining the artifact itself. what you are seeing here is the original roof of the sleeping and office tent. virginia will talk more about that in a few minutes. we reunited all the sections of the polls that no one quite really understanding they were all part of a single set. that was the first time they had all visited with one another since probably 1909. we also looked -- this is a great example of a section of tent on display at yorktown
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battlefield at the national parks service site in virginia. it was always a little -- it was difficult to interpret the tent, because it kind of looks like a wall tent. the question had always been -- and this goes back to 1909, no one quite understood what this piece was. through our partnership with the national parks service, our team was able to go in and examine it. that's what it actually looks like. photoshop makes it look like the top of a milk carton. that actually turns out to be -- because of the marks on the top and being able to associate those with iron bands on holes -- poles, we realized we were looking at a multi-room structure. that is an interior tent that stood inside the marquee. this was a drawing created during our process that illuminates how all the pieces work together.
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so the next step was -- it is , very hard to persuade people that had portions of the tent to let us borrow them all and put them together. particularly when we have theories we want to work out. these are very delicate textiles. and not all of them have survived. so, we thought we would do a little experimental archaeology. so, we parted with the colonial williamsburg foundation. the department of historic trades. we turned the secretary's office into a tent shop. it was the summer of we 2013. recruited these men and women who are talented sewers. i think one of them is in the back over there, tyler. your hand up. .- put your hand up is that you there? what a handsome fellow. so, we spent a summer replicating that tent. it was a wonderful public education project, and it enabled us to figure out how it
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all went together. to experience the tent. here you see it on its first test day set up out on the lawn. one of the things to point out this will set us up for alex in , but if youginia notice there is basically an upright pole on both sides that were known as standard. every thing else is supported via tension. there are ropes that are tied to essentially stakes that go into the ground. you can break this down into a tiny pile of baggage, and it can go up very quickly. you can see the inner tent, and the walls can be let down. it is all under tension. it can shed went beautifully, but when it is as old as it is, it cannot really do that anymore.
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so now, we can walk around it and really appreciate this piece of ephemeral architecture that washington and william lee would have lived in. there is all set up. i think washington would recognize this tent now if you were to come see it set up here we also -- set up. we also replicated the process for some of the items stored inside the tent. many of these items have survived. the folding stools. the tutor place, the peter family, martha washington's descendents has one of these original folding camp stools.
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1770 six, those leather canteens at mount vernon. so we now have all of these , pieces. we even have some replicated commander in chief guards -- garbs. this was just shot two weeks ago. we brought this all down to shoot the film that would accompany the display of the tent. so, it's really quite a complete package. -- giveng giving you you some of the appreciation of the weight of history on us and the responsibility that we have -- as i said earlier, when i think back to the history of when the star-spangled banner was first placed on display in the museum of natural history i do not quite think , there has been something of this significance or complexity ever put on display. ironically, the star-spangled banner and the tents were put on display in 1824, when marquis
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lafayette returned. so, too great icons of national significance. so, it is with this great feeling of responsibility that we turn to a structural engineer to say, "how are we going to make this thing look like it is set up without actually tying it -- without putting any tension ?" so, i turned it over to alex now. the real brains behind the operation. thank you. [applause] alex: thank you very much, scott. thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate -- to support the conservation of this national treasure. hearing scott described the history of the tent ask me feel even more honored to be a part of this team. as scott mentioned, my name is alex. i am a structural designer. we were the engineers that designed the entire structure of
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the museum itself that you see out the window. so, while we were working on designing the concrete foundation, the steel beams, the steel columns scott called us , and asked us if we would like to be involved in designing a complete different type of structure. we said, what type of structure? he said support for george washington's actual tent. so we were very excited to be , part of this and supporting an artifact that was going to be displayed within the museum. so the way the tent as scott , began to describe would have been supported is with the two main poles and a ridge pole and -- across the top. and the tent would have been draped over and 30 ropes would've pulled the tent tight. as scott alluded to there is no , way we could've possibly put the artifact into that much tension.
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it would've ripped. we were given a lot of challenges from the team. number they did not really know one, how big the tent was. we could lay it down flat and get general dimensions, but it was difficult to measure the height of the tent, the width of the tent without saying what -- without really setting it up, which we couldn't do. so, i was asked we were all , asked to design a structure -- to design a structure for a shape that we didn't fully understand. another challenge that we had here was that they do not want -- didn't want to see the structure. the audience sitting in the theater, looking at the tent should not be able to see any , kind of structure within the tent supporting it. we couldn't really build a plywood box and put a tent over because we did not want it to look like an igloo.
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we wanted it to look like it was draping naturally and pulling the tension where it needed to feel the tension. lets me see if we can get this started. scott: do you want to go back? [no audio] alex: i think i put the computer to sleep. [laughter] scott: hardly. alex: engineering does that sometimes, i guess. scott: call in another engineer.
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[no audio] >> verio. -- here we go. [whispering] alex: we might have to take a brief intermission while we get this working. feel free to talk amongst yourselves. we will be right back. >> does anybody have questions? [indiscernible]
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>> do you know the reason for that? >> a very complex code as in every culture with stance and a deportment. there is period manuals with how to stand and a fashionable, aristocratic way to carry oneself. yes, ma'am? >> was the tent waterproof? scott: was the tent waterproof? that is an excellent question. right there is no applying , waterproof substance of any sort. one of the challenges, could they put wax on it, linseed oil or something? the problem is they harden and when the tent moves, it weakens the fibers and it falls apart. so most of these tents were made , from sail cloth. when you we fabric, if you weave
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which is actually -- which is actually, when you we fabric, if you weave of fabric with the weft that is slightly larger than men are yarn -- diameter yarn -- correct me if i'm wrong, virginia -- if you can imagine it creates channels or groups -- grooves and it will shed water quicker. on ships that are sailing as if you're the south atlantic this week, you want to the water not to waterlogged the sails. they have sophisticated technology, centuries-old, for weaving fabric that would shed water quickly. when that fabric is under tension and tightly woven fabric, if any of you are old enough to camp in tents, if you -- camping in tents, if you remember as long as they were stretched tight, but did not touch them that is the case with
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, this tent. making a replica as we had it in the rain. it sheds water. you will feel like you're in a vegetable mister. it's sort of atomizers that water. it is quite efficient. you will notice and some of the photographs of the replica and in that portrait of washington at yorktown there is a flame looking design in red or blue at the top and a that is a cap. the one place of that tent comes into contact on the ridge pole. that is a painted linen cover to shed the water. it works quite well and no further substances have to be applied. yes, peggy? >> where was it woven? scott: this is a big mystery. this is a whole other two-hour talk. the surviving tents --
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[laughter] cheer. [laughter] there are -- the dining tent of washington and the sleeping and office tent, there are marks on various places of the fabric. probably about 400 or 500 yards of fabric that's gone into producing those. marks on there, things like makers marks, export stamps like you would find in :00. -- stamps like you would find in a clock. it is clear it was a mixed bag of cloth. probably all imported. we do not see anything we see that we think is domestically produced. there was a lot going on in the colonies especially up to the lead up of the war. inside of the roof of washington's tent, there is a circular stamp that will probably be a carved wooden that hasmped with ink
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defied all attempts to completely decipher it. it appears that it may be a chronic verse. it may be something that has out minor, whichsia was producing linen for export in the period. we are working on that. i have given away the big secret. somebody will write a book. but there is a bit of a mystery about where the fabric was produced. we think it was maybe captured. a lot of privateers that were preying on merchant shipping. was thephia itself largest port in british north america. it was also possible that was part of philadelphia's connection with the world and the existing stock of that fabric that was here. so still a little bit of a , mystery. probably not woven here in philadelphia. did we solve it? alex: i think so. scott: all right, get on up
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there. alex: thanks for your patience. so i think the biggest challenge , for supporting the tent was the conservators wanted to see this natural drape and the tent -- in the tent the way that it would have normally sat. we could not put any tension into the fabric itself. they wanted to see draping and not any tension. it was sort of the biggest challenge. i was inspired by this photograph. close you caneal , see how the fabric is very natural, naturally draping and has the curvature we were looking for. of course, i went back to the office and worked with our team and put together design sketches and got them over to the working group which was us in another -- a number of people. this was the original design. we umbrella. a structure that was built out
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of aluminum, the material that we chose that could provide it , -- provide adjustability to make up for all dimensions we do not know. it needed to be up to get longer, taller and rotate to support the handle points which we could not measure. and at the same time, we didn't want to touch of the fabric too much because we do not want to see the structure projecting through the fabric. so we only touched the fabric at , 25 points around the bridge -- excuse me, around the tent. that's another project. where we reach out and we support this sub-tent. tent was ant -- sub idea we came up with to put a membrane structure over top of the aluminum and be a second tent, which would support the artifact. so, what we are essentially building is a giant on umbrella
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-- giant umbrella with a membrane structure and once it is completely erected, we carefully place the artifact over top like a tablecloth. so, this was our continuously evolving design concept. we have this that we reach out and each can rotate up and down and rotate side to side and be elongated because these are telescoping members. this was our final design concept. it is an enormous on umbrella. if you're interesting in seeing a picture up close, we have a board you can see after the talk. each piece is finally adjustable. the ridge beam was adjustable up and down, because as i mentioned, we did not know the height of the tent. each of the ribs was telescoping but also was supported with hinges so they could rotate. this the gray part of the
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, structure, is oppositely threaded rod, which i have to credit with my boss. because he walked in. if you tighten in one direction, the stretcher gets longer. and if you loosen in the other direction, it gets shorter. it allows the ribs to move. with fine tune adjustments. what we were striving for is something the museum's staff could adjust with the just one tool, a socket wrench. twisting it with just your fingers. so the erection procedure was , first to build the aluminum and then anchor it to the slab. then the sub-tent would be installed over that. and once we were ready the , artifact would be very carefully over the subtent.
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like a tablecloth. once it was in place, we could hook all of the ropes around the structure. what we did there we threaded , the ropes through a grommet on the artifact, through a grommet in the subtenant, and then there's a little hook on the aluminum structure that you tie. the ropes are purely asked that it. they do not do anything to support the tent. they can be removed when we need to clean the tent. the audience when they view the , tent in the display, they cannot see any of the structure. if you were inside, you would see the umbrella. this is a photograph from the tent, once the aluminum was constructed. you can see each of the ribs. you can see the ribs as they only touch of the tent at those discrete points. if you look really carefully read around there, you can see the hooks where the rope would come through and they would be
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tied off. here's just a few more photos of the completed aluminum structure. this was during our first test where we set up the aluminum structure and put the sub tent over top. and you can see it does have that draping shape even without the ropes. i like this photograph because you see the ropes hanging off it , to the side. it is like an illusion that it is floating in space. and then we placed the replica of the artifact on top of the sub-tent, and in this photo you can see on this side you have ropes coming out and touching and where they touch, you see the tension point. which is what you would see. but over here you see that point , and there is no rope. the only location we provided
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that stretch was at the rope, the rope grommets. and here's another picture of our test. we wanted to make sure it would work before we used the real artifact. we were pretty happy. one final image i wanted to share before i handed over to -- handed it over to virginia. we did an analysis of the stresses within the sub-tent. for two reasons. we wanted to make sure when we weetch the fabric, which chose to be linen, that the fabric would not rip. we wanted to make sure it would not scratch too far. -- stretch too far. as we put in the tension into the linen, it stretched about an inch or so. we wanted to make sure that we could make up for that difference in length and the tent's structure. so, we at cap -- we accommodated
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for any stretch. in this diagram, areas are red and indicate high levels of tension and blue would-be be locationsould that would feel compression or be naturally draping. with that, i'm going to turn it over to virginia to talk about the conservation and the preservation of the artifact is -- itself. thank you. [applause] virginia: good evening, everybody. i too am very honored and happy to be part of this team. it was an amazing process. it was about -- we are going to tour our fourth year of the tent team. so, you recognize this as george washington's marquee that was purchased from martha washington's great-granddaughter. as a textile conservator, i cringe at this photograph
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[laughter] . [laughter] virginia: it's outside, under tension. and in the snow. but, just to make myself feel better, i think of it as a before treatment photograph. it's psychological. but really, in these photographs, there are important documents because it tells us the condition of the tent at this time and what survived. we have the roof and one of three walls. one is existing and the other 2 we do not know where they are. my job is to stabilize the tent so it can be displayed. the strategy of conservation very simplistically is invisible, reversible, anonymous. invisible means whatever i do should not be seen at the distance but to integrate it into a hole so you can
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appreciate it aesthetically. when you get up close, you should be able to appreciate what i do. if i do is so well, it is almost a deception. you do not want to have fraud or fakery. you want to appreciate it and here it is, it has holes, it is old. the second is reversible. everything i do have to be undone without damage to the object. you have to understand the materials and techniques and applied them carefully. there is no problem in being anonymous. the textile told us what it was meant to do.
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this tent is large. by best guesstimates, it is 22 feet long, 15 feet wide, 10 feet high. every time we measured it, we came over the different dimension. if you stretcher or do not, it -- stretch it or do not, it changed. we do know it is 88 yards of 2 different widths of the roof. the single wall is made of 22 yards of linen, so that the three walls would've of been 66 yards of linen. the scalloped edge that you can see right here is actually a scarlet, handwoven wool. that means there are two layers of fabric wound around each other, interlocking and 2 roles of hand stitching with linen thread. when washington had in this tent put up, he was suspended the
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walls from the inside of the roof with sees iron cook and eye materials. eye and you can actually see -- wrong one. hold on. ok can you see the stitching , here? and can you see the shape repeated? these are the original hook and eyes the museum owns. they were removed. we decided not to put of them up again because they put on a new stress. i will tell you our solution later on. conservation aims to retain this much original material as possible and there were about 350 losses in the roof. about 230 losses or breaks in the walls. there were several strategies used to stabilize them.
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and those small losses, i custom died nylon netting to match of nylon netting to match of the hues of the linen and i will put a small patch over every loss and stitch the three layers together with polyester thread. i had to put my needle through the weave to never puncture. that is why i wear reading glasses. [laughter] virginia: so this stabilization , prevents anyone original material, fraying around the edges from getting lost. an example of one of the losses. if you look really, really carefully because my dyeing is spectacular, there is some netting. right in there. if you get up close, you can see it. from a distance, you can't. we are not pretending the tent is perfect. it has holes. because were not trying to make the tent a new, we not restoring notent new, we were
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restoring it. that's a big point i tried to remind people, we are conservators. we are not restorers. the age is the patina. it's what makes it interesting. we are conserving what is original. those areas that had more severe structural issues, like in the valance here, that had a strike -- set -- slightly different approach. in a cotton piece and stitched them together. that added a bit more strength to it. then there were those jagged tears in the roof. it really needed structural support because it was on the slant of the roof. again i put a piece of fabric , beneath the netting and you can see the edges are aligned to match up the weave structure and it is more planar and less disruptive.
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now there were 2 very large , areas of concern and there was a 12 by 12 inch loss in the corner of the wall and there was a 30 by 30 section at the roof along the ridge pole. both areas were structural, bore weight, and needed more strength than the nylon netting would actually offer. so we had to have another , approach. as a sidebar, i love that they actually found the original part of that loss. and it is owned by yale university. unfortunately, their records do not know when it came into their collection. or who gave it. so, it is a bit of a mystery. we will not reintegrate into the tent, it will be a teaching tool.
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you can take that peace and look at it up close. no one will be able to get up close to look at the weave structure, but this will allow people to understand it a little better. in order to stabilize these losses, we had a high resolution digital image taken over the linen next to the loss. philadelphia university's imaging department printed it on heatyester fabric using a transfer process. this is an outtake, so to speak. this is not a perfect color , but it was a pretty good you one. can come up and a look at it. this is the weave structure. if you want another -- if you would like to see another example, you can check scott's tie out because i made him a tie from one of the pieces. [laughter] virginia: he got it today. , the background of
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my slides is actually a photograph taken of the onitally printed photograph the fabric. you can see the weave structure thise back of my slides. is an example of the scale. we had to get the photograph to the correct scale. then we worried about the color matching. it shows you that linen is not a single color. inen has striations different parts. it was exposed to light at different points. you couldn't put a single dyed fabric behind it and have successful compensation for loss . that's why we went to this technique. compensating for it that way. here is my intern, joanna, standing near -- you can make it out. that is the loss. it integrates enough that you do not notice.
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the entire process beginning to end of all parts of the conservation project took 525 hours over a year's time. i estimated 525 hours. it was pretty good. [laughter] virginia: if i say so. the roof and the wall are now packed up and in storage until we put to the tent up in january. we had to be careful of packing get so there were not folds or bends because of the linen is fragile. as hearty as it is, it is also fragile. it took us a day to pack it up. when the tent is displayed in
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the museum, it will be in a dedicated space behind of plexiglas wall. it is far different from the 1911 photograph i showed you at the beginning where it was outdoors under tension in the snow. this brings us to the second part of my involvement in the tent and that was the archival and accurate display of the marquee. scott had a team to tackle the project. team members including curators, structural engineers, a tent maker and a project manager. our mission was to support and accurately represent george washington's 18th-century field office. the collaborative spirit of the group was amazing. the philosophy was very simple . trumpedhat the tent all. what ever it needed, whatever idea you had, you gave it up. if somebody had a better idea, you went for it.
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so our goal was to develop a , display system for a large, portable, dynamic textile that was meant to be held up under tension with poles and ropes in the outdoors and displayed within a static interior environment without stress. how do you make a tent appear under tension while on display when it is fully supported and under no tension? first, the structural engineers created a brilliant design for an indivisible support that will probably tension a sub tent. i searched for the appropriate fabric. the criteria we wanted for the subtent was chemical stability and a little bit of grip so when it laid on the subtent it was supported by the friction and low creap.
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after extensive investigation and elimination of a natural and synthetic fibers and several rounds of physical tests, a 12 ounce linen fabric was chose for the subtent. and then, you have a professional tent maker using the linen fabric that we tested for based on the measurements and detailed analysis of the patterns in construction and alterations. and then you test it twice. we placed -- before the first and second tests, we revised the subtent design because we wanted to add another layer of adjustability. that's what we put at the lacing in. we put in cotton tape along the seams because we do not want the scenes to stretch.
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seams to stretch. we wanted to eliminate the stretch but allow it to be able to be adjusted to the artifact's actual size. while we know the dimensions basically, but they changed every time we did it, we do not know how it will react. we needed to be prepared because we were only going to do it once. so as scott mentioned, a replica , tent was made with colonial williamsburg and we refer to it -- fondly referred to it as our stunt double. we also identified the elements used in the display of the marquee that may be of concern. one was the way we were going to hang the walls from the roof. originally, we had at the hook and eyes. we weren't going to use them again. we used rare earth magnets which are very strong, reversible and noninvasive.
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they're the ones that if you -- on your purse -- it is what clicks hard and fast. you can get them at different strengths. they are a conservator's dream come true. they do everything you hope the material will do. another example of the way we adapted the structure of the tent to be archival is what alex mentioned is the rope only under the pretense of tension. they actually hang limply. if you look here just hanging , down. it hooks inside and goes through -- it is like a fishing rod and ties up. there is no tension on the tent. and finally we designed a , trolley that will go around to the tent fully to help in the installation and maintenance of the tent.
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so, when the museum opens in the 2017, marquee will be the centerpiece through the efforts of a remarkable group of people. you will understand it, when you go and see it, it is displayed accurately. under the illusion of tension. it will also be used as a teaching tool in the museum and scott will continue and tell you more about that. [applause] scott: very quickly, i promise. just the future. so we are beginning exhibit , installation and the museum -- in the museum right now for an april 19, 2017 opening. the tent will be displayed, the second-floor gallery, about 16,000 square feet of core exhibition and the tent will be presented in its own object theater. so, it's here, and its own
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, temperatureol enclosure. about a 100-seat auditorium. the tent will be behind retractable screens when you come in. so if you can imagine, , projection screens in front of the tent, that allows us to satisfy another of the conservator's demands. which was any light, of course, is damaging. you can control for uv, but essentially when you are light -- lighting an object, your causing damage to it. you want to minimize the amount of light that hits the object. a couple of ways you can approach that. you can put a very low light level on it that has a long hall. that is the approach you see at the smithsonian. you walked down the hallway where they lower the light level where your eyes adjust and five footcandles and it looks
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like the object is popping and glowing in front of you and you go on a long journey back where you bring your eyes up so you're not stumbling or blinded. we decided which only light the tent when it there are eyeballs on it. at the smithsonian, lights are on when the museum is open whether there's one person, zero , people or 100. by putting it in its own enclosure, putting screens in front of it, the kind of tell you the story. much of what i talked about at the beginning. understanding the history of the object and its significance. what are the parts are that you cannot see anymore. how it worked as a whole. by the time you are reviewing the object you are prepared to itake it in and understand and you are only exposing it to the light for a short period of time during each show cycle. we're in the process of development that in a film with our media partners and look forward to greeting all of you next april in philadelphia. so thank you very much for your , attention. [applause]
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scott: if there are any questions, feel free to run fleeing from the room, but if you feel so, we are so move -- ask if you're so moved. we're happy to answer questions as long as you have any. yes? >> [inaudible] re-create the inner tent? scott: great question, yes. in fact we re-created the inner tent. we took the dimensions off and were able to establish how that all worked together. that was the great part of their replication process. the great thing about this structure that keystone hood has designed, the tent team, it could accommodate if sometime in the future the decision was made
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to reunite these partners. if somebody cut one wing of mount vernon, when it we think it's a good night -- wouldn't we think it's a good idea to put them back together? if at some point in the future, that chamber could be reunited. that tent could be placed and it would complete all of the elements of that tent. another great aspect of this replication is we have been able to set it up in a very cold late november weather. we had it out in blazing sun or when it is raining. it is remarkable, it is very when it's sunny. modern in its approach. it is the founding cap into gear -- camping gear, here. camping gear manufacturers, come see us. this is really -- you have stuff sacks. you have the poles that come part. littlely starts as a pile of baggage. if it is cold out, you can button it up and multiple layers.
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you do not need a fireplace. people often ask us if there was a stove or anything. for most of the year unless it is really freezing out, you are quite comfortable. a little bit of sun and a few people and the body heat warms it up. by contrast, if it is cold two weeks ago, we were near yorktown, virginia and it was hot and wonder percent humidity and and -- 100% humidity and in the 90's. very much like the siege of yorktown. you take the walls off and it acts as a sunshade. these were very practical, comfortable ways to sleep. they had figured this out. our ancestors were not as crude as we thought. yes in the back? ok, two questions. just it made me think of it. was there mosquito protection? scott: only rubbing noxious
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things on your body or slapping. yeah. now there were very fine, gauzy , fabrics worn for mosquito protection. sometimes. or to drape over a bed or something. that was a little avant garde but was certainly well-known in the caribbean, in the tropics. to the best of my knowledge, we haven't found any explicit information about washington having anything like that. the beginningill of this research project. new things come every day. you have a second one? yeah. >> what color was it when it was new? scott: boy, did we fight over that. [laughter] right, as rich in you said, linen is not just one color. it is very interesting -- this is going to be a long way to answer your question. if you remember the big 30 by 30 piece of the roof that was
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probably cut out during the civil war, most likely a soldier got in there with a pair of scissors, cut this thing out, that has had a completely different history since the 1860's from the rest of the roof. so when you put them back , together, the first thing you notice is the piece that was kept as a relic, not displayed like the rest of the tent and not wet cleaned in the 1970's, vacuumed and everything. the amount of fiber lost -- if you can imagine each one of those yards sheds a little fiber when it is washed. it is almost like a spider web. a little lighter. the piece -- the roof piece of that had been cut out and put in a du jour since that time, it's much tighter, with a heavier weave. it's a little bit more like a golden brown color than the rest.
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probably, originally -- cannot go back to the beginning slide, but in the period paintings, they usually use a white or cream to depict tents. and most of that fabric was probably somewhere in that range of a bleached white gray or oftentimes flax linen or hemp linen would be. they would certainly try to bleach that and start with something as close to white as they could get and over time, it would darken with age. yes? one, and then two. >> you talked a lot about testing the structure. and everything. did you -- how much -- or were you able to test the original tent with the structure? is that going to go up for the first time? scott: actually this january , will be the first time that of the original artifact will come in contact with the work we have been doing. so, yeah. fingers crossed. [laughter]
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scott: that was the point of trying to build all of this adjustability. fabric is a living -- it's almost an organism. it is never the same dimension depending on temperature, , humidity. if it is at an angle or flat, so we had to estimate what the range of that would be. to be able to work all of those grommets, extensions. again, the idea is the mount wants to meet the object. you don't ever want to move the object fit the mount. so, there's going to be some pacing, like an expectant father, i can assure you, in january when we are working on this. we feel pretty good. wouldn't you say? yes, yes. yes, ma'am. >> are you able to discuss the nature and extent of funding that made this possible? scott: sure.
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well, we -- this is part of $150 million capital campaign for the museum so that everything from -- museum. so, that's everything from the construction of the museum, the design and fabrication of exhibits, operating endowment, everything. i am pleased to report we're close to finishing that off and expecting conclude that before -- to conclude that before hand. yes, we had for this particular part of the project, we had a wonderful partnership with the children of the american revolution and the daughters of the american revolution. yes. and there was a national fundraising effort to support this exact work we are doing, virginia's work on conservation. and the production of the tent. that was fabulous. again support from around the , country, very significantly. and the colonial dames. in philadelphia and national society. yes. and we have had great crowdfunding. people donating through our
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website. for the museum of the american revolution. it is really it is a project , that has captured a lot of hearts and minds. yes. so thank you for breaking that , -- bringing that up. yes. and tonight, you all have contributed towards this project by coming and all of the viewers, we would be happy to hear from you as well. yes, ma'am? >> you mentioned you had two tents. is there any record of what happened to the other? that he used at the same time? scott: yes. in fact, there is a dining marquee that is a little bit larger. it is taller and wider and is survived also. it was kept in arlington house. it is not displayed but it is at the national museum of american history, the smithsonian. some of you may remember it was , displayed for many years at what used to be the museum of
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history and technology, i believe it was called, before they renamed it the museum of american history. it has not been displayed in many decades. yes, it those through the two, records, we feel confident that in surviving tents are the ones made in the late winter of 1778 and used through the rest of the war. of the two of them, the sleeping and office tents in our collection showed a lot more use. it is obviously through the 19th century, it would've received some abuse and use over time. but as early as 1824 when life 1824, actually, when lafayette returned, a newspaper article that mentions the sleeping at office tent was in a more degraded condition than the dining tent. we believe that is testimonial to its use. when you drive of the 94 -- up and down the 95 court or
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there were markers that , washington slept. somewhere in the yard around the house was that tent that was set up and used as his office. the object itself helps to support the condition and support that. yes, ma'am? >> you described in the fabric -- describe the fabric as a linen. i think of a tent as made of canvas. how heavy is the material? virginia: it's terminology. scott: right, canned this is the actual weight and we've. it depends him a class. we should ask a textile conservator. virginia: technically, whenever you describe of fabric, you have to describe the fiber and weave structure. but there's a lot of mixed countries. between it gets very confusing. you have to just make it scientific. the sail cloth can be cotton.
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it can be -- what it really means is it is a heavyweight fabric. so this is a linen, plain weave. so, if it was going to be anything else, you are going to call it anything else but a linen in plain weave. it is the most fundamental weave structure. if nothing else -- everything else confuses the term. just have to get to the scientific basis of it. i don't think that was very helpful. [laughter] scott: it was helpful. i think. havenk we -- i think we warned them out. there might even be some refreshments. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016]
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>> you're watching american history tv. weekend, on every c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> monday night on "the communicators," the president of audi of america talks about autonomous cars, the height that they are nearly ready, and a prediction on when they will be on the market. >> if you read the headlines, see what they are doing at , and at theon automotive business -- where we are used to a lot of hype -- when it comes to everyday matters, a little bit of marketing hype is ok. when it comes to matters such as this, hype is disingenuous, because words are so disingenuously bandied around. when someone sells self driving, what a consumer thinks is -- i
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come out of my home, i hit a button, that car will take me anywhere in america at any time under those conditions. but that's not the case. >> watch "the communicators," monday night at 8:00 eastern, on c-span2. brandeis became the first jewish person to sit on , 19nation's highest court 16. in commemoration of the 116th anniversary of his nomination, we have a talk about the justice's life, career, and legacy. here's a preview. >> i published a book on dissent and what i called constitutional dialogue. the giving take between majority and dissenting opinions. -- give and take between majority and dissenting opinions. in my biased eyes, brandeis will always be the great dissenter.
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he wrote 454 opinions for the dissents,y 74 averaging fewer than three per term. in a minute we will look at where the dissent determines the traditional course. when speaking, he like all justices, had to tailor his opinions to reflect the views of the majority. here his work as an attorney played an important role. he had the ability, the skill to marshal the fact and set out and interpretation of laws. sometimes a new interpretation that commanded a majority. when writing a dissent, however, he felt no such compunction. in those 74 dissents, we find all of his distinguishing characteristics, paying attention to the context in which the law had been passed. the factual situation that the legislature had relied on for
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the judiciary to defer to the legislative branch of policy. -- policymaking. especially the role of speech in a democratic society. >> you can watch the entire program at 5 p.m. eastern, announcer: republican donald trump is elected as the next president of the united states, and the nation elects a republican-controlled house and senate. we take you to key events as they happen, without interruption. watch live on c-span, on demand at c-span.org, or free on our c-span radio app. estimated in 1921, an 100,000 people gathered at arlington cemetery in virginia for a ceremony honoring a soldier of world war i. the u.s. army silent

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