Penrhyn's winter cleaning project: the paintings

Taking a close look at one of the paintings in the collection © Paul Harris

Taking a close look at one of the paintings in the collection

Once Penrhyn closes its doors for  winter, we go into cleaning mode at the castle. This year our annual collection checks will coincide with our paintings project. Every year we check the hangings and the fixtures that attach the collection to the walls, but every five years we also have to lightly dust the painting frames and the canvases.


How will we do this?

To complete the project we will be taking down each painting and examining them under special work lights, before using a very soft pony hair brush to gently remove the dust.

We use the brush to direct any dust into a covered vacuum cleaner nozzle, which is set to very low suction. We make sure we keep the nozzle away from the painted canvas to avoid any accidental hoovering of the surface. 

Taking care with each painting

We work from the top to the bottom of the painting, in a left to right pattern, to make sure we don't miss any sections, and not just the front of the painting. The back of the canvas and the wooden stretchers trap lots of dirt too.

Once we have completed the clean we check all the hooks, eyelets, lamps and chains are securely attached.

Re-hanging the paintings

Before we can re-hang the painting we must check that the hooks and bars connected to the walls of the building are also secure. Only when we are happy that the fixings can take the weight of the painting will it be returned to the wall and covered with a light sheet of acid-free tissue paper to prevent more dust falling on it before we open the doors again.

Remember to look carefully at each painting when you visit after 1 March 2013 to see if you can spot the difference.