On a warm sunny day this week I got to work outside at Luhr’s Cottage Museum in the Barossa Valley. The Cottage houses a large number of books, framed prints and photos, textiles and a variety of other objects and the management group asked for a hand in working out how best to look after the items on display.
So where do you start? With cleaning of course!
Not as boring as it might sound, cleaning in museums is a VIT (very important task) and it’s always interesting to see the differences between museum cleaning and cleaning in own home. We talked about and tried out various cleaning techniques and everyone in the group had a go at carefully wiping ceramic and glass objects, vacuuming books and textiles and a very ornate leatherwork picture frame using the micro-attachments. I thoroughly enjoyed showing the group some useful collection cleaning skills and appreciated the warning gasps from them each time I narrowly missed bumping my head on the very low verandah beam!
Also great to hear that the rising damp problem in the floor of one room of the cottage appears to be caused by a leaking pipe, so should be able to rectify fairly soon. It pays to keep an eye on water bills, as a higher than usual one tipped the group off that a leak may be behind the damp problem. Until the floor dries out properly, we also used some pieces of Mylar to create a barrier between the brick floor and items displayed on the floor. The museum is considering reducing the number of items on display and storing them instead, which would help a lot with ongoing cleaning and collection maintenance.
The museum is open every day, so why not break up a Barossa wine trip with a spot of local history?