As soon as the Arts Council England (ACE) funding was allocated, I started raising orders and booking contractors. There is a huge amount of work to be done before the Hall re-opens on Friday 5 March 2021. The decorating work takes place between 25 January and 12 February, so in the meantime I need to make sure the remaining furniture is ready for its final shift, and that I have prepared as much as possible for the rush to finish everything that can only be done once the decorating has taken place. This includes installing new UV film and blinds, getting photography done of the rooms and programming the touchscreens.
Ordering new cases is a huge task, as there are many factors to consider and to double and triple check before signing off the final drawings. This includes making sure the measurements are accurate, choosing the correct lighting, deciding whether the plug should exit the case at the top or the bottom, choosing the colours of the paintwork, and even the colour of the silicone. There will be five new cases in the Life Below Stairs exhibition, all bespoke. There will be a case in the Library so that visitors can see a selection of books from the bookcases in much better detail. There will be a case in the Dining Room to show pieces of tableware close up. And Emperor Otho, our Rubens painting, will even be getting a brand-new case.
I have also placed orders for items to populate the new interactive area in front of the fireplace in the Entrance Hall. This includes a small rocking horse for our youngest visitors, a cabinet of curiosities to fill with geology specimens that visitors can touch, a bookcase for books relating to the Regency era, and some dressing up clothes for all the family.
Now it’s just a case of getting as much preparatory work done as possible, ready for the rush to start in January and February.