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December Deep Clean
It’s almost December and we’re once again getting that deep-clean feeling. The Museum will be closing its doors for 2017 from December 4, when we’ll be sprucing the place up for a reopening on New Year’s Day. Read on to find out more about exactly what we get up in this month of closing.
Every December the Museum shuts down for a period of deep and conservation cleaning. This is a project that is months in the planning, as we ascertain what most urgently needs to be repaired, conservation cleaned and decorated. In addition to the 350 year old mansion house, we have three off-site Collections stores containing over 50,000 objects. Making for a lot of important stuff that requires our love and attention.
This year we are not redecorating a single room as we often do, but instead are focussing on the internal doors and external window frames. This may sound like a relatively simple job, but there’s really no such thing when it comes to a listed building. The internal doors in particular require an enormous amount of skill. Our amazing technician will be repairing as she paints and the work is so time consuming we know that only a few of the most needy doors will be worked on this year.
In addition to this, each room will be subject to an intense deep cleaning process. This is an incredibly important task and with 55,000 visitors coming through the doors each year, there is a huge amount of work to be done (if you’re in any doubt of this, have a quick internet search of death watch beetles, carpet beetles and webbing clothes moth larvae – these are just some of the pesky chaps we are in battle with). This deep cleaning not only involves cleaning and caring for every part of the room, but also the conservation cleaning of the objects on open display. To give you a bit of an insight into this process, here is a rather dry list of the basic schedule for each room:
- The light fittings (remove cases, dust and dispose of the dead things that gather here).
- The spotlights and their tracking rail (dusted).
- The cornicing and picture rails (dusted).
- The shutters, inside and out (wiped with a damp cloth).
- The windows (wiped with a damp cloth, dusted, vacuumed).
- The window shields (removed, wiped with damp cloth).
- The tops of the shows cases (dusted, tops removed and light fittings cleaned and vacuumed).
- The glass of the show cases (given a good old polish).
- The doors (dusted and cleaned with a damp cloth).
- The radiators (dusted and cleaned with a damp cloth).
- The walls (marks carefully removed with a damp cloth).
- The skirting and bottom of display cases (dusted, marks removed with a damp cloth).
- The carpets (if not scheduled for professional cleaning, spot cleaning with an old fashion scrubbing brush and then carefully vacuumed).
- Open display interactives (dusted and wiped clean).
- Open display objects (conservation cleaned).
Each room is different and this list does not encompass a whole heap of what is done. One room will take one person on average 6 to 8 hours to complete; however, this varies depending on the size of the room and how many objects we have on open display. Some rooms take a lot longer.
December is an incredibly busy time for the Museum and by the end of it we’re all grubby, grumpy and exhausted. But you know what? This work helps to protect our Collection, making sure that our visitors will be able to enjoy it for years to come. And that is so worth it.
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