Conservation Solutions, Inc: Art + Architecture + Artifacts

British Decorative Arts Gallery Mantel Conservation Assessment

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

The three stone mantels—Norfolk, Chesterfield, and Heathcote—were removed from British homes and installed in the British Decorative Arts Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum. They date from the late 16th century to the early 19th. The client wished to have them relocated as part of a planned re-installation of the galleries. To achieve this Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) was contracted to assess the condition of each mantels and develop a disassembly plan. The goal was to study and document conditions in written and photographic form, locate assembly seams and internal reinforcing if feasible, perform non-destructive investigation to identify structural systems where practical, and to determine the means and methods of removing and relocating the works.

All mantels were inspected through direct observations, with mirrors, cameras, an endoscope and fiberscope. Embedded supports were mapped with a metal detector. Small holes were drilled into the wood fills in Chesterfield and Heathcote to allow insertion of the scopes. The holes were located in inconspicuous places and are not visible to viewers. No original material was disturbed by the work. CSI conservators provided a detailed assessment for each mantel including photographic documentation, description, AutoCAD drawings, observed conditions, and recommendations for safe removal, storage and re-installation of each.