Re-housing the Beatrix Potter collection

A collection of birds eggs from Beatrix and Bertram’s collectors cabinet

The Care of Collections team at the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hill Top are starting out on a project to improve collections management and recording of the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter Collection.

Beatrix Potter left a huge eclectic collection to the National Trust, ranging from furniture, ceramics, paintings and jewellery, to more unusual items such as wooden rabbits, rusty nails, doll’s clothes and even a bracelet made of hair.

Wrapped up in tissue paper

There isn’t room to display the whole collection at once, so what isn’t on display has been carefully stored away in archive boxes, wrapped in acid free tissue paper. While this means the objects are safe from harm, each time the team want to check the condition of an object, they must handle it, which can potentially cause damage. 

A snug fit

To prevent this, the team of Conservation Assistants are working on ‘re-housing’ the entire collection.  This involves layering plastazote (a non-toxic foam) into an archive box and cutting a mould for each object to sit in. This has proved tricky for some of the more unusually shaped objects, but our conservation assistants are a talented bunch! Once this project is complete, they will be able to carry out inventory checks of all objects without physically handling them.

To reduce handling of each delicate object, they must first be re-housed.
National Trust Member of staff carefully packing away items from the Beatrix Potter collection
To reduce handling of each delicate object, they must first be re-housed.

Conservation Hub

The work on this project is taking place in the new ‘Conservation Hub’ at the Beatrix Potter Gallery. The Hub is open to visitors most days and here you can see members of the team in action as they care for Beatrix Potter’s possessions.

Systems, data and dado rails  

Another part of the project also involves uploading the fixtures and fittings of Hill Top to the Collections Management System, a huge database where records of the National Trust’s collections are stored.

This means looking at doors, hinges, dado rails, fireplaces and bannisters in rather great detail. It might sound strange, but it is all part of our continued efforts to look after Beatrix Potter’s beloved house.

Thank you

Your visits, spending in our shops and funds from memberships are all put back into conservation work like this, to ensure Beatrix Potter’s legacy can be enjoyed for many generations to come.