Conservation

Our conservators work to preserve and study the Isle of Man’s national collections for the benefit of present and future generations. The collections include objects, documents and archives.p>

The collections include objects of all shapes and sizes, books and manuscript archives, from prehistoric periods to the present time. They also give advice on the conservation of sites and monuments in the care of MNH, and to members of the public caring for treasures and heirlooms. The priority is to carry out specific conservation work for the collections in our care and the conservators can only provide this service for items in private collections in special circumstances.

Current Project: Conservation of ‘The Peggy’

The preservation of the 18th century yacht, Peggy, is the largest project we have ever undertaken. The links on the right give background information on the boat and explain her history and incomparable significance. This story alone is sufficient to justify our interest in her, but the Peggy Conservation Project is equally an important platform for conservation-restoration both on the Island and internationally.

During 2013 we designed and fitted a new, steel support cradle using a three dimensional laser survey of the hull. Then, in 2014 archaeologists undertook an excavation to make way for the removal of Peggy from her cellar revealing, in the process, her original dock. Finally, in January 2015 Peggy was lifted and then transported to a dedicated conservation facility for examination and treatment. Before us lies a great deal of work to stabilise her timbers, eliminate failed fixings and reveal her original paintwork.

The intimate links between Peggy and her boathouse are so very important that the final stages of the project will look at ways of housing her there when the conservation work is completed.

For more detail on the Peggy Conservation Project please follow the link to the project blog, right. Here you will find pictures and videos, commentary and also links to documents and background information. The Nautical Museum which was formally George Quayle’s eccentric boat house and the home of the Peggy, still poses many questions to architectural historians regarding his methods and intentions. The museum will remain open without the Peggy and now features a dedicated gallery telling the personal story and history of George Quayle and his family and including a scale model of the ‘Peggy’ herself, made by Mr John Gawne of Fistard in 1949.

Current Project: Conservation of The Castle Rushen Clock

The Castle Rushen Clock has been keeping time in Castletown for centuries. It is similar to a very small surviving number of wooden-framed, 16th century turret clocks, but it has some unique features and is in a remarkable state of preservation.

In 2009 the clock it was damaged when the striking weight fixing failed. It was removed to the Conservation Studio for study and repair.

Radio carbon dating confirmed the age of the clock and x-ray fluorescence analysis that most parts are original, contrary to previous opinion. The clock has been carefully cleaned and restored to running order without alteration to any original components. We have followed as closely as we can the pattern and design of comparable clocks, though these are few in number.

For more detail on the Castle Rushen Clock Conservation Project please follow the link to the project blog, right. Here you will find pictures and videos, commentary and also links to documents, background information.

Current Project: Conservation of The Giant Deer Skeleton

Generations of visitors to the Manx Museum have enjoyed the Giant Deer Skeleton currently displayed in the Geology Gallery. In fact the skeleton is a significant and very complete example that has not been conserved since it was put on display over one hundred years ago.

In 2015, as part of refurbishment work encompassing the deer display, the skeleton was removed for conservation by Christopher Weeks, MNH Conservator, and Lucie Graham, Natural History Conservator from Lancashire Conservation Studios. In the workshop the skeleton was recorded and was cleaned using a laser. We discovered the meticulous and careful work of Caleb Barlow of the Natural History Museum in London who, in the summer of 1897, visited the Isle of Man at the invitation of P.M.C. Kermode to articulate the skeleton. Many of Mr Barlow’s repairs had since failed and had to be replaced. Samples of tooth and bone were taken for dating (carbon 14 analysis) and DNA testing. With these data we may be able to tie the Manx deer to his cousins in Ireland, Scandinavia and Russia. In April 2016, the deer skeleton was installed as the centre piece of our new Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum.

 

Current Project: The Ballakaighen Log Boat

This is a dugout canoe carved from oak about 3000 years ago and measuring about 4.5 m in length. Remarkably well-preserved, it was excavated in the late 19th century from a farmer’s field in the West of the island. The boat was recorded and published at the time by P.M.C. Kermode but was allowed to dry naturally which resulted in gross damage and distortion. More recently the boat had been on display in the Bronze Age exhibition at the Manx Museum in 2010. It had suffered a fracture at one end and was badly in need of new support. With the help of local A Level student Sebastian Aycock, our conservator Christopher Weeks made a digital 3D model of the underside of the boat using detailed photographs. Using the 3D modelling programme SketchUp, a new support was designed that closely fit the contours of the virtual boat. With the help of computer controlled machining the new support was created in the real world. The boat is now properly supported for the first time.