A Textile-Hanging System Composed of Readily Available Hardware Materials
Best practices for long-term storage of flat textiles call for rolling them on archival tubes and suspending the tubes, to avoid damage to textile fibers caused by folding and stacking. A simple wall rack for hanging textiles can be built using materials that are available at most home-improvement or hardware stores.
Museum of Natural History
The University of Iowa
11 Macbride Hall, Iowa City
This multi-row, textile-hanging system consists of wall-mounted shelf standards, shelf brackets, closet poles, J-bolts, and nuts from a local big-box home-improvement store. Each row of brackets can accommodate multiple poles, and each pole can accommodate one wide roll or multiple narrower rolls.
Materials, Tools & Supplies
- 2 dual-track, heavy-duty, powder-coated steel shelf standards (Fig. 1)
- Dual-track, powder-coated steel shelf brackets, 2 for each row desired (Fig. 2)
- Hollow, powder-coated steel closet poles, 1–4 for each row (Fig. 3)
- 5/16” J-bolts with hex nuts, 2 for each pole (available in 5” or 7” lengths) (Fig. 4)
- Additional 5/16” hex nuts, 2 for each pole (Fig. 5)
- Screws, for securing standards to the wall
- Screwdriver (manual or electric)
- Drill with metal bit
- Hacksaw or power saw, metal blade (optional)
- Measure the length of the poles to be used. (Optional: cut poles to desired length, using a hacksaw or power saw with metal blade.)
- Using a manual or electric screwdriver, mount the shelf standards to the wall, vertically, at a distance from each other that equals the length of the poles.
- Arrange the shelf brackets at varying heights along the wall standards to accommodate the number of rows desired.
- Drill holes through the closet poles, approximately ½” from each end.
- For each pole, thread a nut onto each of two J-bolts, then insert the J-bolts through the holes drilled at each end.
- Thread a nut onto the ends of the J-bolts, to hold the poles on the J-bolts.
- Hang the poles on the shelf brackets.
- To hang rolled textiles on a pole, remove a hanging pole from the rack (lift the J-bolts off the shelf brackets), unscrew the bottom nut on the J-bolt at one end, remove that J-bolt from the pole, insert the closet pole through the textile tube(s), thread the J-bolt back through the closet pole, return the nut to the bottom of the J-bolt, and return the pole to the rack (hang the J-bolts back on the shelf bracket). (Fig. 8)
Think vertically—a textile rack can be installed above cabinets or over doors, in spaces that are otherwise unused, as high as ladders will reach and staff can safely access the rolled tubes stored there. (Fig. 9)
Most materials are available in a variety of lengths and diameters, to allow customization for a variety of collections storage situations. Likewise, materials can also be cut with a metal saw, to custom lengths.
The number of poles that each bracket can accommodate depends on the length of the brackets and the diameter of the rolled textiles.
The height of each pole within a row can be varied by moving the securing nuts up or down on the J-bolt or using J-bolts of different lengths (e.g. staggering 5” J-bolt poles with 7” J-bolt poles on the same bracket).
Attach a photo to rolled textiles, so you can see what’s inside without unrolling them (Fig. 10)
For the multi-row textile-hanging rack installed at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, we attached two 78” dual-track, heavy-duty, powder-coated steel shelf standards to the wall above a cabinet, six feet apart. 18 powder-coated steel, 19” dual-track shelf brackets were arranged to accommodate nine rows (nine brackets on each standard). Each row holds three or four 6’ powder-coated-steel closet poles, each of which is suspended from the shelf bracket by two steel J-bolts that run through the poles at each end, secured by nuts. Today’s cost for the materials used is $553 (about $60 per four-pole row, plus the two tracks).
Textiles in the UIMNH collections were rolled with acid-free, lignin-free, un-buffered tissue paper on 3”-diameter archival tubes, and tied with cotton twill tape. The poles run through the tubes to suspend them. Tubes, rolled tissue paper, and twill tape were purchased from an online archival supply vendor ($933 + s/h). Cheaper, non-archival tubes are available but are generally acidic and must be covered with a protective barrier before rolling (Fig. 11).