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All Spick and Span

Feb 21 2016 News >> Latest News

Spick & SpanWhilst Discovery is a great museum it is unfortunately not housed in a purpose built hermetically sealed dust proof building. This means that the objects on open display need regular cleaning. Since December the Tuesday “engines“ team have been helping the TWAM Conservation department with this task.

After a short training session with conservator Dawn Stoker the team has been let loose on the museum galleries. The cleaning process involves using a special variable power vacuum cleaner and a range of brushes. The technique is to brush the dust towards the vacuum cleaner nozzle.  In this way the dust is gently removed from object and trapped in the vacuum cleaner as opposed to simply moving it around with a duster. The different shaped brushes allow the cleaner to get into the myriad nooks and crannies on the large engines. As you can see no mention is made of a wipe over with a damp rag. In fact Dawn has threatened to do painful things to anybody who even suggests this.

It is very rewarding to see the difference that clearing the dust makes. The exhibits take on a new appearance and really look cared for. However this is just the first stage in maintaining the objects. The next stage is to apply a fine coating of micro-crystalline wax. This protects the metal surfaces and also provides a display standard sheen. So far the FODMs team have only tackled the dust removal, more training will be needed before Dawn trusts us with the wax.

So far we have cleaned objects in the Story of the Tyne Gallery and the Tyneside Challenge gallery. After that who knows – maybe Turbinia and the Forth Banks steam turbine. If you would like to help with this vital work please contact Graham Bradshaw at or telephone 0191 277 2330.

Spick & spanThe pictures show David Murray getting to grips with the Armstrong gun and Parsons radial flow turbine in the Tyneside Challenge gallery.

Click here to see FODMs other projects

Graham Bradshaw

Last changed: Feb 22 2016



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