The contents of the house must be removed while building and conservation work takes place. Each item in the house is an integral part of the total work of art, and so the team must ensure that everything is accounted for and will be reinstated to its original chosen position.
The team has been assigning each object a unique number, noting its materials and dimensions, photographing it and adding it to the Collections Management System. The items are labelled with their number and room and shelf location using a tag or special pen. No item can escape, from postcards to each part of this gentleman’s dressing kit, including the stoppers!
Alex Solomon, Conservation Intern, mentioned the inventory of the chinaware as one of the more daunting aspects of the process so far, saying that one learns quickly not to describe something simply as ‘tea set’! The two living rooms contain a large collection of pink lustreware which is mostly of the same type and has certain recurring motifs, but is not necessarily of the same make. Moreover, special care needs to be taken when, as Alex explains, a tea cup posed on a non-matching saucer is not a mistake but a carefully considered aesthetic choice which must be respected. As they work, the team is developing a greater and greater appreciation of the complex, unique aesthetic of the house.