We have a team of professional textile conservators, Zenzie Tinker Conservation, who help care for our costume collection and are responsible for maintaining the displayed costumes and caring for the stored collection.
Each year they check the condition of the costume on display looking for signs of pest activity, dust and signs of weakness. They clean both the costume and inside the display cases and check that the environmental conditions are not fluctuating too much as this can cause damage.
The costumes also have to be labelled and catalogued so that we know what we hold in the collection and can choose suitable costume to use for display rotations. Ideally our costume display would be changed every two or three years to reduce the stress this places on the costumes but this is a costly undertaking - conservation is time consuming, highly skilled work and we can therefore only change our costume display occasionally as funds allow.
If you do see any empty display cases, be assured that their contents are being conserved and will be replaced soon - preparing a costume for display can involve hours of painstaking repair, cleaning and then padding the mannequin to give the correct shape and support but the results speak for themselves.