Practicing Preservation: The Yakan Saputangan at Harvard

Another grad school semester done! I am proud to show you what I’ve been working on, which is practicing the acquisition of Philippine textiles into museums and textile conservation.

NARRA STUDIO Yakan Saputangan at Harvard

Yakan Saputangan used for study at Harvard

While it was difficult not to be on the Harvard campus this semester, this gave us the opportunity to work with objects from our own collections. With Yakan weaver Evelynda Otong's permission, I researched the Yakan Saputangan, learned how to accession and deaccession museum objects, provided a condition report, and recommended strategies for long-term storage and preservation. Our objects of study were then temporarily available for public access on Harvard University's Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

With NARRA STUDIO, it is wonderful to provide greater access to handmade Filipino cultural goods and learning more about our rich and diverse heritage. With the recognition that cultural continuity can happen in different ways, moving these handmade pieces towards greater circulation is one. Learning some of our ancestral practices is another one (Weaving! Language! Music! And so many others). Preserving these works and learning from their creators is another one that I am wholeheartedly pursuing. I want to see the work of Philippine weavers, artisans, and artists represented in museums and see more of us BIPOC folx represented in leadership at cultural institutions and reflected in museum collections in ways that bring honor. This requires rethinking what our cultural institutions look like and I am grateful to be witnessing so many courageous artists, makers, healers, educators, and leaders each with our own gifts moving together to reimagine the future.

NARRA STUDIO Screenshot of Yakan Saputangan at Harvard Study Course