Did you know that more than four plates – stacked on top of each other – can lead to distortion and damage?
Well before you rush to sort out your crockery can l tell you this was but one of many fascinating facts l discovered whilst on a tour of the stores at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.
It’s a free and monthly guided journey of the parts of the gallery other people don’t reach.
This behind the scenes look is designed to make the collection more accessible and let you see what the museum staff get up to underneath the public galleries.
It’s also an opportunity for you see how everything not on show is safely stored – whether it’s watercolours, prints, oil paintings or ceramics and reassuring you that everything in the collection – which technically belongs to the people of B&NES – is being properly cared for.
Our hour-long tour – ably guided by Museum Exhibitions Assitant, Phoebe Meiklejohn-McLaughlin – started in the strong room – the oldest store – through to watercolours and prints and finally the oil store.
We also got to hear about the accessioning process in which only objects with local relevance are now accepted and how they are catalogued and recorded so the museum knows exactly where things are – whether in store, on display or maybe on loan.
There are special racks or boxes for objects. Non-acidic paper to wrap things in and – coming back to those plates – boxes where no more than four plates are stacked one on top of the other – and then with special cushioning guards between each of them.
A formal accessioning policy is a more recent way of doing things but there is still evidence – in the miscellany cabinet – of disparate objects that don’t seem to have any individual relevance.
My favourite a little music box with a glass-covered tableau representing dancers at the Assembly Rooms with Beau Nash on hand to supervise proceedings.
It’s not in the best of conditions and – with the cost of conservation being very high – the Victoria Gallery has to be very selective about what are the most important items to spend money upon.
So this little ‘fancy’ might not enjoy the general public gaze for some time but it will remain in storage and who knows.
Tours – as l say – are free but you have to book in advance via 01225 477232. They happen on Wednesdays and the next tours are due on June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 12, November 18 and December 14. All from 12 noon to 12.45.
You can also visit www.victoriagal.org.uk