It was Pope Benedict XV who, in 1916, founded the Pontifical Tapestry Factory-School, which was assigned a primarily educational role, aimed essentially at weaving new tapestries. In 1926, Pope Pius XI entrusted the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary with the restoration and conservation of tapestries.
The primary task of the nuns was to take care of the female workforce and to oversee the observance of working hours and discipline, while the Master Tapestry Worker of the Factory-School was recognised as having every form of expertise in the conservation and restoration of tapestries, thanks also to the collaboration of a Master Dyer.
Since its foundation, the staff of the Vatican Museums' Tapestries and Textiles Restoration Laboratory has always focused on updating operational techniques as well as the tools and machinery useful in improving the conservation of the works - such as the large tapestries - entrusted to it.
To this end, over the course of time, the nuns have been assisted by highly specialised lay restorers, trained in the most famous Italian schools of restoration.
Currently, the Laboratory - coordinated by Chiara Pavan - collaborates with seven restorers, three of whom are religious sisters.