Winter at Mr Straws House
As we close the doors of Mr Straw’s House for the winter months, we often get asked what happens at this time of year, and whether we all take a nice long holiday! Sadly the answer is no, as we’re far too busy taking care of the collection, and preparing for another year of tours and special events!
As a conservation charity, the care of the expansive collection at Mr Straw’s House is always the priority.
With 30,000 items to clean and check for signs of deterioration, it’s all hands on deck as staff and volunteers work to care for the vast range of objects the Straws squirreled away over the years: from jars of jam to photographs, clothing to dozens of chairs.
Working in the confines of a semi-detached house makes this all the more challenging, as furniture is carefully rearranged to make room to get at the collection and set up space to work in.
The emptying of certain highly cluttered areas, such as the Lumber Room, requires a lot of space, as items that are normally piled high are neatly laid out as they are cleaned and cared for.
In order to have space to do this, both sides of the property are commandeered with collection spread out in both Warwick and Endcliffe Villa. In order to return the items to their correct positions, dozens of photographs are taken every year and the original acquisition photos from the 1990s are also used to ensure everything is returned to its rightful place, just as the Straw family left it.
The winter also provides time to prepare for the year ahead, writing new tours, talks, and displays, which help bring to light different stories about the Straw family, their lives, and the society they lived in. Training the volunteers, preparing the marketing and press releases, and developing children’s trails for the school holidays also takes place over the winter.
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During the four months of conservation cleaning, it is also the time we begin to install the following season display. From bringing out pieces in the collection we wish to use, or finishing the interpretation panels, creating our press releases and marketing for the coming months alongside our volunteer training sessions and introductions for new members of the team.
There isn’t much breathing space in the four months and plans for this years winter clean have been well underway for months. Although four months seems such a long time at the beginning, but it always goes so quickly when we get going.