Museum Life: tissue paper

Fashion and textile museum collections aren’t stored the same way as the clothes in your own wardrobe! With custom-made drawer systems, hanging racks and climate control, storage is designed to minimize the effects of time on items and preserve them for future generations.  A humble but essential material in the preservation of museum objects is tissue paper, perhaps an unusual topic for a blog post, it is a big part of my museum life when re-storing parts of the collection.

Tissue is used in all parts of museum collection storage and is especially found in the textile and fashion collection at the museum I work at. Unbuffered paper tissue is interleaved between objects, pads out folds to prevent creasing and can help a garment or textile to keep its shape.  With a plethora of shapes, sizes and forms in the collection, this material can be manipulated into almost any shape to help a garment or textile from being damaged during long-term storage. It is amazing that something fairly insignificant on its own will help to preserve fashion, dress and textile collection for the future.

A great video showing how to use tissue to store a garment  was made by my colleagues and can be found here:

Image: Tissued used to store a historic garment during a Powerhouse Museum Regional Services Australian Dress Register Workshop, 2011. Photo: Joyce Bryant

Related Articles


  • Joy D. May 25, 2012 11.33 am

    I have to say that video made me nerd out a bit. Only Scholars and archivists would get sheer joy of reading an article about tissue paper. Very well written!

  • Rebecca May 25, 2012 11.37 pm

    Hi Joy,

    Thanks for your lovely comment!
    I decided to write about tissue for this post as I am currently working on re-housing the lace collection at the Powerhouse Museum. This has involved replacing, many, many pieces of old tissue. I was thinking about what to write about for this post while working and saw a pile of tissue that came up to my waist and realised how readers that don’t work with collections may be interested in this slightly strange part of museum life…

    Happy reading, Rebecca


Leave a Comment

Monthly Archive


Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at :, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.