The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum last fall sent four soiled 16th-century Flemish tapestries to Belgium for a state-of-the-art cleaning. Textile conservator Tess Fredette and her staff had to carefully remove and roll the fragile tapestries to ship them abroad.

Seven months later, the brighter and clearer images were a revelation and pop inside the refurbished, 4,000-square-foot tapestry room.