Most difficult to deal with are the items not easily categorised and those for which we have no in-house expertise.
The Portrait Gallery is home to a vast range of different materials. For example, how many people are aware that the collection includes Tassie ‘gems’ - approximately 60,000 glass paste medallions, measuring between 8 and 20mm in diameter? In order to ensure everything we have was covered we did have to rely on external specialists at times.
The decant gave us an opportunity to commission a condition survey of the sculpture collection. This was contracted to the independent sector as at present we do not have a sculpture conservator in-house.
Moving the larger three dimensional works proved to be quite complex: a dedicated committee was set up to discuss moving the more challenging pieces in the front hallway – such as Chantrey’s marble statue of James Watt, 2.1m high and weighing 4990kg. Such a move required meticulous planning and specialist lifting equipment – certainly not an event to be undertaken lightly.