Work in Progress...
We are now at the time of year when the temperature plummets both inside and outside the house and we have to think about heating the house without damaging its contents.
Cold doesn’t damage the collection, but makes life uncomfortable for both visitors and staff. Insufficient heating or dehumidification of collections and storage areas leads to damp conditions promoting mould growth and wood-boring insect activity. Such damage would not only cause irreparable damage to the collection but also cost us a great deal because of the remedial conservation and repair costs incurred and disappointment for our visitors because objects may have to be removed for conservation. In extreme cases of mould growth display rooms may have to be closed to the public because of the health risk from mould spores.
However, excessive heating can damage historic objects such as furniture, panelling, tapestries and paintings which were designed and made for use in indoor environments that were colder in winter than twenty-first century comfort expectations. Uncontrolled winter heating to modern comfort temperatures inside Baddesley causes relative humidity to fall to very low levels, leading to drying and shrinkage of organic materials. This in turn causes cracking of paintings on wood and canvas and damage to furniture and panelling such as cracking and buckling and lifting of veneer.
Whilst a nice warm house is much more pleasant to be in, it will cause damage to the house and collection—which we definitely do not want. As you can all appreciate it is a cause of constant worry to the conservation team that the humidity and temperature is suitable for both the house and collection as well as all the people within it.
There are many projects ongoing inside the house and out. We’ll try to keep you informed about what we are doing to preserve this wonderful place – for ever, for everyone.