The closed season is now upon us and the challenging task of putting Snowshill Manor and the collection to bed has begun.
For the Manor team the closed season is something we look forward to every year, while the open season provides its challenges and enjoyable moments the winter season is when we really get the chance to look after the collection in a more thorough manner.
Our main task during this time is to clean and examine the items on display at Snowshill. This involves removing items from display, opening cupboards and drawers and keeping an eye open for any potential problems, ensuring that we are doing all we can to keep the agents of deterioration at bay. It is a great way to learn more about Mr Wade and his collection and we are always on the look out for interesting items to highlight to visitors and volunteers during the upcoming season.
This is the period when we fill out the most paperwork, condition reports are our main method for observing items. Any issues (damages, repairs, pest activity) are noted down and photographed so that at least once a year, mainly during the closed season we can check the item to see if the object is deteriorating further.
We start to prepare for the Winter in August, we always like to ensure that we have all the equipment we need and that everything is ready before we close.The acid free paper is topped up, new tins of renaissance wax are bought in, brushes are checked and vacuum cleaners are serviced. Having the paperwork ready in advance really saves time, the winter plans that form part of our house manual are updated and printed. These plans inform staff of all the tasks to be completed in each room and highlights any potential problems to be aware of. These forms are very important and ensure that work isn’t being duplicated. We also write a schedule for the season which we always try to stick to but normally the weather has more of a say than we do on how close we stick to it.
The covers we use to protect the collection from dust have to be freshly laundered ready for use. Over the last few years the brilliant Ruth has been making specific covers for the items in the collection each one with a rather large label as previous labels have faded in the wash and it often took a combination of guess work and a group vote to decide which cover belonged to which item! We also have an amazing volunteer Elspeth who looks after the covers for us ensuring they are organised in room order so we don’t waste valuable time playing hunt the dust cover,this is a dream come true for the manor team.
So after all the paperwork is printed and all the equipment is ready it is time to dig out the thermals and get started. First room on the agenda: Mermaid!