Visit to the Stores with Victoria Hobbs
We were introduced to Victoria who is the Conservation Officer for Nottingham City Museums and Galleries and is currently cleaning the stained glass window. She took us to her work space where she had displayed three of the stained glass panels and for the next hour she provided us with her insights and knowledge of the conservation process, demonstrations of the cleaning method, and a walk around the stores to see some of the other castle objects.
Victoria began by explaining to us the cleaning technique. To avoid using plastic cotton buds for environmental reasons, she made them out of wooden skewers and a bag of cotton wool. She wet the cotton bud with water and then, holding it at an angle flat against the glass, she made small circular movements. Given that this method was effective and sufficient to remove the surface dirt, no harsh substances or materials were used in order to minimise the risk to herself and the object. The result of her work was clear to see as the colours, particularly the blue and yellow sections, were more vivid and revealed the beauty of the illustrations.
She explained that most of the surface dirt was probably pollutants including soot from the gas lights which illuminated the glass, and possibly tobacco and nicotine from when visitors used to smoke inside the building. There are a few marks on the glass that cannot be fully removed, including gum residue along the edges which may have been applied to hold the glass inside the old frame.
Prior to being accessioned as a museum object in 2004 the stained glass was stored at some point in unstable conditions which may have impacted on the condition of the glass. Victoria explained that when environmental conditions fluctuate due to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, this can be detrimental to certain objects; generally speaking, dampness and cold can lead to mould, whilst dry and hot conditions can cause organic materials to shrink and shrivel.
The window has now been relocated to the current stores unit which provides optimum stable conditions where the temperature and humidity can be controlled to suit the objects at around 50-70 RH. The stained glass panels are stored individually in purpose-designed protective cases and, inside, the glass is sandwiched between two inert plastic layers to prevent movement. The cases are kept in an upright position as she advised that glass can be fragile if laid flat horizontally.
During her conservation work, Victoria observed some additional features which could offer further interesting avenues to research and investigate:
Nidhi Sharma, Project Volunteer