In the furniture conservation section we work on a wide range of wooden objects from many departments, including over 6,000 pieces of furniture. These span many centuries and show how furniture developed and changed; for example from the 15th century three legged turned chair in the Lady Lever Art Gallery to Guy Martin’s 2003 ash and willow chair in the Walker Art Gallery.
We also work on many unusual wooden objects including the giant cedar wood Totem Pole seen in the atrium of World Museum Liverpool. Some of our work has been on large architectural pieces like a cruck frame from the roof of a cottage and the Lidiate doorway, both for the Museum of Liverpool
Furniture is so commonplace we take it for granted yet its construction is often hidden beneath veneers, polishes and paint. We use microscopes, x-ray and other analytical equipment to understand the object's composition, the way it is made and the actual species of woods used. We recently researched the chairs in the Lady Lever collection and we are currently analysing wood samples taken from post holes found in the Caribbean for our Archaeology department.
Furniture conservation also manage the curiously named ‘object dusting team’, who remove the ever present dust high up in our galleries and on the exhibits on open display. Do you realise that over 89% of our dust is created by the visitor and is mainly clothes fibres? So when you see someone dusting high up they are removing all those tiny bits of wool and cotton that float up on air currents.