I have just had a quick look at the museum website particularly the advertisement about the half term family fun day. If you read my previous blog post, you will be aware that a large part of my role concerns the protection of our collections from insect pests, so I thought that a family fun day would be the ideal opportunity to give those ‘brave’ enough, more of a hands on experience. Seriously though, I hope to enlighten rather than scare anybody and once these creatures are seen in magnification and you learn more about their lifecycle you may just learn to respect them rather than fear them. What I can promise you is a lot of fun on 22 February between 11.00am and 4.00pm from all of the activities.
Like everybody, there are times when I would rather be somewhere else, like bed or a beach in Goa. Luckily though there are lots of occasions when I am reminded how much I enjoy this job. One of those occasions was, this week, when a fragment of staircase in the Bishop Cosin style was finally installed in the English Interiors gallery. Bishop Cosin was responsible for a style of church woodwork unique to County Durham which fused gothic and contemporary Jacobean forms to create splendid examples such as the font cover in Durham Cathedral. He was also responsible for the amazing Black Staircase, constructed in the late 17th century, which can be seen in Durham Castle. When this fragment was brought into the conservation studio it was far from splendid. It was very dirty and had been the subject of frequent woodworm attacks ( see image) . Under the supervision of Jon Old the senior conservator, myself and Sarah Riley (a second year conservation student from the University of Lincoln) spent a great deal of time cleaning it and filling the woodworm holes with coloured wax, until a collective decision was made that we had done sufficient work to make it suitable for display and to maintain its integrity as an historic object. It was an enjoyable task ‘pinging’ (Sarah’s word not mine) off solid pieces of dirt to reveal this wonderful carving and when Mark and Vin (exhibition team) finally put it on the wall it was a very satisfying experience for all concerned. See what you think.