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- The first Walled Garden Residency by Quercus
- Only the Flame Remains: A Collection of Poems
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Museum Closes in December for Deep-Cleaning
We cannot believe it! We are at the time of year again when we close the Museum for our annual deep clean. Being closed can be disappointing to some visitors so we thought we'd explain a little more about this important annual activity.
Many of us are familiar with Spring cleaning and getting ready for the brighter and warmer weather, well the Museum annual deep clean is very similar, only it happens in December!
The planning for the shut down begins a few months in advance. Working to a long term plan which includes surveying the building, looking to see which rooms are in need of decoration, which objects need conservation and what repair jobs are needed through all the sites. As you can imagine, the building maintenance in a 350 year old mansion house can be quite extensive, from the cracks in the walls, to slightly uneven floors.
The next phase is planning the rota, which involves organising the cleaning over our four separate sites. The Museum has three off-site Collections Stores with 55,000 objects that need caring for and conserving. We also have to try and to ensure that the external contractors can work around the Museum staff, as we completely disassemble certain rooms, whilst deep cleaning the others.
This year we are completely redecorating the Childhood and Education room upstairs in the mansion. Thankfully, most objects in this room are in display cases so there is only limited amount of ensuring that all moved objects are documented and carefully packed, ready to be put back on display once the decorators have finished.
The rooms that are not being redecorated are instead subject to an intense deep cleaning process. This is an incredibly important task and with over 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 little 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. For the purpose of giving you 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 of course this list does not encompass much of what is done, but it does give some idea. 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, indeed some rooms take much longer.
December is a busy and incredibly important time for the Museum. It is essential in keeping up the high standards that we are proud to have and most importantly, it means our collection is conserved and cared for, ensuring that it can be enjoyed by all of us for many years to come.
Photo: Running a Home display on cleaning materials and advice!
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