In 2011, a group of art historians and conservation scientists founded the Textiles, Trade and Taste: Portugal and the World project, at the CHAM (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa e Universidade dos Açores). In a first stage, this project comprised several doctoral and postdoctoral investigations funded by the Portuguese government, through the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. These aimed to trace the global circulation of textile objects and related raw materials, in the context of the Portuguese and European Overseas Expansion, from the 16th century onwards. Together, these projects came to strengthen the value of textiles held by several Portuguese and international cultural heritage institutions.
Since then, the TTT evolved into a network group that encourages the interdisciplinary combination of science, conservation and art history to provide systematic studies of textiles and their historical value. By disseminating research undertaken by its members on textiles, and other work recently accomplished by its network of contacts, the TTT aims to bring new synergies to the field of textile studies and encourage collaboration amongst international researchers and institutions.
Museums, churches and private institutions around the world house very fine and diverse collections of textile objects. In the past decades, their significance as witnesses of old cultures and the daily life of their people have been highlighted by new research methods, which have highly contributed to an increased awareness of their artistic and historical value.
Artistic and historical research of textiles has ranged from collating inventories to conducting stylistic, iconographic and archival studies, with the aim of placing these objects in their historical, artistic, technological and socio-cultural contexts. Interdisciplinary collaboration with chemical analysis has been developed as well: characterization of dyes, textile fibres or precious metal threads provides useful data, for identifying the geographical origins of raw materials and finished textiles, or to develop improved conservation treatments for their preservation for future generations.