Conservation at the Carriage Museum
We carefully manage the atmosphere at the museum to maintain the carriages as best we can. Below you can find the main agents of deterioration of our collection.
There are over 40 carriages on display at the Carriage Museum. ranging from grand state coaches, to more humble governess carts. Each carriage is a composite object, made from many different materials, which all react differently to heat, light and moisture.
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 (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.
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.
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.
During 2016 there will be a special conservation display at the carriage museum exploring the effects of these agents of deterioration on various materials, available daily in the north-east stairwell.