Preparations for Lost Treasures

October 31, 2018
color photo of two men moving a crate, a woman walking beside it, a truck in back

First discussed in 2015, Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill opened on Oct. 20. Years of planning and work went into creating an exhibition on this scale, spanning the globe with 150 works from 55 different lenders. Working within a historic structure created its own set of challenges. In addition to lending 30 items, ranging from large decorative arts pieces like the Andre Charles Boulle coffer on stand to miniatures like Jean Etienne Liotard’s self-portrait, The Lewis Walpole Library co-sponsored the exhibition; lending support and guidance in the adaptation of the environment to safely and securely maintain the objects on display. 

While the interior of the building was being modified, each object requested was being evaluated by a conservator. Many required treatments to stabilize fragile areas. Some were matted and framed, and others had mounts constructed or micro-climates made to reduce the impact of environmental fluctuations during transport. Each display case was constructed months in advance of carefully selected inert materials so that they caused no harm to the objects within. Once treatment and housing were complete, crates were designed and constructed to carefully support the objects on the long journey. 

Each item’s condition was assessed in detail before and after transit, and the conservator, who had worked intimately with the objects all along, accompanied them the entire way; from the packing and transport of crates to their palletization and loading onto the plane. The same happened in reverse on the other end, with the conservator overseeing the entire process through mounting and installation. Transporting such a large number of historically and artistically significant works requires the coordinated effort of many and careful oversight at each stage of the process.