A Thirty Year Restoration
First of all, a big thank you to the folks at Mirrix Looms, who gave us the heads up on this story.
During the middle ages, groups of skilled weavers would take months to create large tapestries to be hung in churches or in homes of the wealthy. While taking months to create a tapestry the size of a wall doesn't seem terribly long, the amount of time it can take to restore one of these tapestries can take exponentially longer. How long? Well, conservators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art began working on restoring the tapestry Christ is Born as Man's Redeemer in 1973; it was finished in 2009.
Along with the normal wear and tear that comes with age, the tapestry had also been cut into four pieces and clumsily repaired somewhere along the line. For thirty years conservators worked to very carefully remove earlier examples of restoration, clean the fabric, reattach the pieces, fill in any holes, and reweave the borders. Also, as no suitable wool yarns on the market could be found to match those in the tapestry, the Textile Conservation Laboratory developed and dyed yarns their own. For more information on the project, the tapestry, and to see amazing before and after images, watch this video from the Met.The results are astounding.