Conservation at the Carriage Museum

The interior of an 1800s travelling chariot

There are over forty carriages on display at the Carriage Museum, each made from many different and delicate materials. We carefully manage the atmosphere at the museum to help maintain and conserve the carriages as best we can. Find out more about some of main conservation challenges.

Dusting the fragile wheel of a carriage
Cleaning a carriage wheel
Dusting the fragile wheel of a carriage

Insect pests

These creatures like dark places where they will not be disturbed. The insides of carriages are ideal for furniture beetle (woodworm) to lay their eggs, the larvae then eat the wood as they grow. Clothes moths lay their eggs on textiles and the larvae graze the surface as they grow. We regularly check each carriage for signs of pests and remove them.

Relative humidity

Relative humidity (RH) is the percentage of water vapour in the air. Low RH means the air is dry, this can cause wood to dry out and shrink and leather to become brittle. High RH can mean mould growth, cause metals to rust and encourage pest activity. It is difficult to control the humidity in large buildings but you will see de-humidifiers around the museum which do help.

Light

Textiles, leather and paint are particularly sensitive to light. It causes the colours to fade and the fibres in textiles to break down. Ultra violet light, which causes sun burn, is the most damaging and we block this out with filters on the windows. All light is damaging and the damage caused is irreversible, so you will see the blinds down in the buildings and light monitors around.

Physical damage

This can be damage caused by wear and tear through use or through touching or brushing up against a certain area repeatedly. Oils in our skin can leave residue on objects causing further damage. Major physical damage can also be caused by knocking into or dropping things accidentally.

The delicate paintwork on a single brougham in the carriage collection
Crest of the 7th Marquis of Bute on a single brougham
The delicate paintwork on a single brougham in the carriage collection

If you'd like to find out more we are holding a special conservation in action focused on the carriage collection on Thursday 21 June 2018.