Back and Forth: Polesden’s Exhibition Loans

‘Here today, back… in a little while’.  That’s the story of some of Polesden’s collections that have been here, there and everywhere in temporary exhibitions recently.  Thought a National Trust house wasn’t really part of the exhibition scene?  Think again.  Polesden Lacey’s wonderful collection of paintings, ceramics and objets d’art, is not called ‘world-class’ for nothing, and the world has been very interested in borrowing our objects for their temporary exhibitions!

Our Portrait of an Unknown Young Man by the Dutch artist Jacobus Levecq, has only just returned from a high profile exhibition at Rembrandt’s House in Amsterdam, on ‘Rembrandt’s Late Pupils – Studying under a Genius’.

Jacobus Levecq, Portrait of an Unknown Young Man, 1654, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

Jacobus Levecq, Portrait of an Unknown Young Man, 1654, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

Our beautiful Meissen chocolate pot from the Study recently left us for a temporary exhibition at Fairfax House in York, ‘Consuming Passions: Luxury Shopping in the Georgian Britain’ (which I strongly recommend seeing – it’s open until the end of December this year).

Meissen Chocolate Pot, 1735, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

Meissen Chocolate Pot, 1735, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

Later this year in the autumn, our confident Self-Portrait by another Dutch artist Frans van Mieris, will also be carefully packed up and transported to the Mauritshuis in the Hague, for an exhibition on Dutch Self-Portraits.

Frans van Mieris, Self-Portrait, 1667, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

Frans van Mieris, Self-Portrait, 1667, Polesden Lacey, National Trust

In short, Polesden and its collections are very much part of the international exhibition scene.  So I thought you’d all like to know, firstly, why we encourage exhibition loans and secondly, what we do to protect our objects during this process.

Exhibitions are a great way of promoting our truly beautiful and eclectic collections on an international scale. Polesden Lacey’s collections are of a similar quality to the Wallace Collection in London, and their presence in temporary exhibitions worldwide, makes sure that everyone knows it!

It’s fantastic to have our collections in exhibitions across the world, but equally important to protect our objects on their journey.  So, (in case you were interested) these are the steps we followed when de-installing our Levecq painting, ready for exhibition….

Firstly, we needed four people to remove the painting from the wall, two supporting, one unhooking the work from the chains and another to unplug any picture lights. The most important thing to do once it was on a flat surface, was to check its condition.

It is very important to write a detailed condition report on the object, so that we knew if anything changed during its journey.  Our Levecq was packaged in a robust box wrapped in cotton tape and polythene, to prevent any damage to the painting.

Cotton tape, polythene and box packaging around our Levecq in Amsterdam.

Cotton tape, polythene and box packaging around our Levecq in Amsterdam.

Then this box is placed within another aluminium box with wooden bars, lined with foam and sealed.  Our precious package was then placed into an acclimatised transport vehicle, with optimum temperature and humidity levels to keep our painting comfy!

When our Levecq finally reached its destination in Amsterdam, this whole process was reversed.  Crucially, we then checked there had been no changes to the painting, by comparing its condition to the report completed before its departure from Polesden.  Before ‘installing’ the painting, we used super-soft badger hair brushes and a raking light (horizontal torch light across a painting), to very carefully remove any dust before its display.

Jonathan, our House and Collections Manager, using a badger hair brush and raking light to dust the painting

Jonathan, our House and Collections Manager, using a badger hair brush and raking light to dust the painting

All three of our journeying objects – the Levecq painting, the Meissen Chocolate pot and the Frans van Mieris painting – undergo this rigorous process of protection before any exhibition.  We have a duty of care to our collections, and will perform this duty from Surrey to York to Amsterdam!!

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