Assessment and cleaning of a pair of chandeliers at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.
Acquired by the Western Art department in 1970, the chandeliers add a sense of grandeur to the Mallett gallery which is often used to host special events at the Ashmolean. The chandeliers were cleaned, re-pinned, and re-electrified in 1990 adding candle-shaped lights. They had not been cleaned since the beginning of the museum’s major redevelopment project in 2006. By 2016, the chandeliers had significant dust and insect droppings on the surface, dulling the sparkle and giving the glass a yellowed appearance.
The aim of this treatment was to remove the surface dirt, document the condition of the chandeliers, make recommendations for further treatment if required, and to propose a timetable for future cleaning. The challenge of this project was working at height in the galleries. To ensure a safe working environment, a risk assessment and method statement were prepared and signed off by the Conservation department in advance. Work was carried out when the gallery was closed to the public with the assistance of a conservation student, Kristen Gillette who was studying at UCL, to avoid lone working and pass on knowledge and experience.
Each pinned section was removed and cleaned on a table by Kirsten, the stem and arms were cleaned in situ. The location and condition of each section was recorded before dry cleaning with a vacuum and soft brush, followed by a mild solvent solution applied with cotton swabs. Once clean, each section was reattached in its original location and reports on the treatment and condition provided.