Cleaning the collections at Hatchlands Park
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Winter is a very busy time at Hatchlands Park. Every item of furniture in every room has to be cleaned and its condition checked. We keep careful records of each object’s condition so that we can make sure that the environment is right and that nothing has been accidentally damaged during the open season.
Besides the damage that water can inflict on historic materials, using it in the house would significantly raise humidity levels. High levels of humidity can be extremely damaging to our collections so when we say cleaning we mostly mean dusting.
Even when we dust we can’t use spray polishes or cleaning products which you might use at home. Modern cleaning products are too harsh for historic objects and leave residues which can build up over time and cause changes to the colour of varnished surfaces or marble floors. Because of this we use almost no chemicals at all when caring for the furniture, fixtures and fittings.
Hog’s hair or pony?
In order to gently remove dust from all objects with intricate carving and detail we use two different kinds of small brush. A pony hair brush is soft enough to use on ceramics, ivory piano keys and gilded surfaces. Hog’s hair brushes are much stiffer and used for wooden furniture, metals and plasterwork.
Each material has its own individual brush. Over the course of many years most of the objects will have been subject to various polishes and treatments that we would never use today, so we separate the brushes to prevent cross contamination. Brushes are used together with a small vacuum cleaner so that dust is removed and not just displaced. When handling some objects we wear white cotton gloves to prevent the acidic oils in our hands from having a cumulative effect.