Whilst a good number of volunteers are working with staff on the annual exercise of taking all the decorations down from the attics and sitting around a table sorting, making and sometimes mending, Museum Standards and Property Care Co-ordinator Stephen Williams is going through his schedule of rooms, checking his lists twice for precious objects which must be either protected or carefully moved to a safer location before thousands of children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles come through the house for Fota’s celebrated Magic of Santa.
“Things get pretty busy around here in December!” laughs Stephen, “so we plan and re-plan routes through the house and make sure that nothing of the house or anything inside it is put at risk – it’s all part of our holistic Museum Standards Accreditation.”
The Trust knows that people come to Fota for Christmas because they want to be in the grand reception rooms and experience the glimmer and glamour of the big house at this time of the year. Our job in the Trust is to make sure that we work with the house and objects, to strike a good balance between access and conservation.
What kind of jobs is Stephen doing with his team? Here are just a few examples:
– The careful and even rolling-up of good carpets and covering them in Tyvek cloth to keep them clean and protected.
– The creation of boxes (acid and pest free!) around objects which can’t be moved, such as the delicate gilt pier tables in the main pink Drawing Room.
– The careful relocation of precious sidetables and chairs which can’t fit amidst all of Santa’s kit and entourage, always lifting these precious objects by their lowest load-bearing points, never by their chair-rails or carved skirting.
We are getting ready for you at Fota and look forward to welcoming you inside!