The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Furniture Conservator, Jurgen Huber, at work
Furniture Conservator, Jurgen Huber, at work
Detail of Marie-Antoinett's commode by Riesener showing the effect of light
Detail of Marie-Antoinett's commode by Riesener showing the effect of light
Furniture Conservators

On 29th March, 1913, Peter Nielsen was appointed as a furniture repairer; this was the beginning of the Conservation Department as we know it today.

At that time it was not conservators but 'craftsmen' who were employed to look after the Collection; Nielsen was followed in 1924 by Frank Feser, another cabinet-maker, and Jack Beagley. Jack Beagley was employed initially as a furniture repairer but moved up through the ranks to become first a 'craftsman' and then 'master-craftsman', until in 1957 his title was changed to Conservation Officer, as it was felt that the role performed by the members of the Conservation Department was no longer that of 'repairers'.

At this time specialist courses were becoming available in the conservation of artifacts, and the profession of Conservator was born. Today the Furniture section of the Department is run by Senior Conservator Jürgen Huber. From September 2008 until September 2010, he was assisted by Elisabeth Andrieux, appointed Furniture Conservation Apprentice, thanks entirely to the generosity of the Elizabeth Cayzer Trust.  The Furniture section of the Conservation Department is responsible for both preventative and more interventionist conservation of furniture, clocks and related objects, including some sculpture and decorative wares. Also covered are decorated wooden surfaces such as gun or cross-bow-stocks, wooden sculpture, picture frames and related artifacts.

Besides furniture, the Wallace Collection also has some forty clocks, of which approximately twenty are kept running. Whilst running, these clocks are under constant observation. Preventative conservation measures such as controlled humidity, temperature and light levels within the galleries, are essential in helping to ensure that the Collection's furniture is kept in optimum conditions and thus available for future generations to enjoy.