Summer conservation in the museum: closed, but not quiet

Throughout August the RCP museum is closed to visitors. Though the doors aren’t open, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes. It’s our annual time to maintain the fabric of the building, and also time to look after museum and library collections with specialist conservators coming in to care for our paintings and books.

The month always starts with plenty of upheaval as many of our paintings are taken down from the walls. For our largest canvasses, like the John Hoyland work ‘4.3.66’ that usually hangs in the Osler Room, this is no small task. It took four professional art handlers and some very long ladders, but we’re pleased to say that the painting is now safely down from the wall and stowed away.

Preparing to take the Hoyland painting off the wall
Resting it safely on the floor

None of the rare books need a specialist team to move them, but their long-term preservation is still vitally important. Later in the month our ongoing project to make them supportive ‘book shoes’ – as used by the National Trust – will continue in the inspiring surroundings of the Dorchester Library.

Conservators making book shoes in the Dorchester Library

We’ve closed our exhibition ‘A cabinet of rarities’: the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne for the month, but the good news is that its run has been extended. It will now reopen, as will the rest of the building and museum, on 1 September and run until 1 December 2017.

We look forward to opening the doors again in September, spick and span and ready for another year in the life of the museum.

Katie Birkwood, rare books and special collections librarian

Read our weekly library, archive and museum blog to learn more about the RCP’s collections, and follow @RCPmuseum on Twitter and @rcpmuseum on Instagram.