The gentle art of conservation

A conservator dusting the canopy in the Long Gallery at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. ©NTPL/John Millar

I have just noticed two new blogs about the continuous process of conservation going on at the historic houses of the National Trust.

Conservation assistants at Antony, Cornwall. ©NTPL/Cristian Barnett

Rob’s Blog at Dyrham Park is written by a trainee conservator working at Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire. He has been sharing his experiences of taking part in the cleaning schedule at the house that takes place every winter while the house is closed to the public. Rob describes how he goes about various conservation tasks, such as cleaning the swords and dusting the books.

Textile conservation volunteers working on items at Tyntesfield, North Somerset. ©NTPL/John Hammond

In Nostell Priory Conservation Blog the team at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, give an insight into what goes on behind the scenes there. Recent posts include putting the winter covers on furniture and sculpture and tackling an outbreak of mould in the Museum Room.

A conservator dusting Chinese ivory chess pieces at Chirk Castle, Wrexham. ©NTPL/Paul Harris

What I am finding so fascinating about these blogs is that they allow us to see actual people telling us about their actual, methodical, day-to-day care for the collections. No TV-makeover atmosphere here – this is the real thing.

18 Responses to “The gentle art of conservation”

  1. style court Says:

    Appreciate the alert. And, at the risk of getting on everyone’s nerves with too many Downton Abbey references, I do think the series has increased curiosity about all sorts of day-to-day maintenance and conservation issues related to grand old English houses. Even people who have no connection to decorative arts or museums are becoming more fascinated.

  2. Parnassus Says:

    More great recommendations from you. Just in testing out the links I starting learning things and became absorbed in the interesting posts. Conservation must be especially complicated at the National Trust, because you have so many projects on so many scales, from huge houses and gardens to delicate fabrics and tiny antique objects like the ones you illustrate here.
    –Road to Parnassus

  3. Mark D. Ruffner Says:

    And following up on what Parnassus said, you have the conservation projects that take years, like the restoration of a Hardwick Hall tapestry!

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, how interesting that you are detecting a ‘Downton Abbey effect’. I only hope our consevation colleagues don’t feel it is now part of their job to intrigue against each other or fall in love or go to war, as the cast of DA constantly seem to be doing 🙂

    Parnassus, Mark, I am pleased you share my fascination with the intricacies of conservation work. As you both say, there is a huge range of conservation work going on, from the regular but vital routines of dusting and cleaning to specific projects repairing particular objects, rooms or buildings. There is an example of the latter just starting at Knole, where there is a plan being put in motion to improve the condition of large parts of the house and its contents over the next ten years or so.

  5. visitinghousesandgardens Says:

    Don’t forget Uppark Park’s blog:

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes that is a great blog too, but focusing mostly on the garden at Uppark, whereas in this post I was looking at blogs about collections conservation.

    I have listed all the NT-related blogs I know about in the ‘Links’ list on the top right of this blog – the number and diversity of them is gradually increasing.

  7. thedowneastdilettante Says:

    Normally my comment would focus on the subject at hand, but I’m utterly distracted by the photograph of the beautiful interior at Antony.

  8. nostellprioryconservation Says:

    Thanks for your support Emile. This is exactly why we started the blog – to show visitors what is often considered the most interesting part of our work but is not often seen. Hopefully it will show people what we get up to! ‘Conservation In Action’ events are going to be big this year, which I’ll put on Nostell’s blog ‘Events’ page when they’ve been confirmed. Thanks again!

  9. HRH The Duchess of State Says:

    How nice indeed to get a glimpse at the more mundane but very important task of keeping these wondeful places beautiful dahhing… very nice post.

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Dilettante, yes it is a beautiful space, isn’t it? And the four different heads in the photograph work rather well together 🙂

    Thanks Ellie, and please keep posting!

    HRH, I think all of the jobs of those working in ‘heritage’ are in reality rather mundane (mine certainly is): it is the places that we all help looking after in one way or another that are the real ‘talent’ 🙂

  11. Susan Walter Says:

    Both the blogs you’ve given links to are terrific and will have to go on my reading list. I’ll be passing these links on too.

  12. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Susan, glad you like these.

  13. KDM Says:

    Brillaint – and very helpful – thank you for sharing this resource. KDM

  14. attinghamparkmansion Says:

    Briliant to read about the ‘behind the scenes’ work in historic houses. Attingham Park has just started a house blog about this…great to see the profile of conservation being raised!

  15. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Helen, I wasn’t aware of your fantastic conservation-and collections-oriented blog when I wrote this post, or I would have included it too! Some really good blogs are being developed all over the National Trust at the moment.

  16. knolenationaltrust Says:

    I can’t miss the opportunity to plug the Knole Conservation Team Blog:

  17. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Oh dear, another one I’ve missed, my apologies! I will have to do a follow-up post highlighting your blog and Attingham’s – but first check if there are any others…

  18. attinghamparkmansion Says:

    Thanks Emile! Hope you enjoyed it? We always enjoy reading yours.

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