January 31, 2024

Keeping It Clean

The image shows museum cleaning equipment including a red museum vacuum cleaner, assorted cleaning brushes, a white microfibre cloth and some Dust Bunny Professional cleaning cloths used for different types of museum items

What better way to start the new year than with a bit of early spring cleaning?

Like many museums, historic sites and heritage organisations, we take the opportunity while closed to the public to do a deep clean.

Cleaning, or housekeeping, is a really important part of helping us maintain and look after the collection, the exhibition and our items on open display. So every January we clean everything, including the building!

It ties into our Collections Care and Conservation Policy & Plan, which is a key part of museum Accreditation. A well-designed plan helps keep things clean and helps us monitor the state of the collection. It guides us and keeps us on track by outlining our housekeeping rules, some of the things it covers are;

  • How often we’re going to clean different types of materials and different storage or display areas
  • How we’ll manage light, dust, temperature and relative humidity levels
  • Storage and display materials and methods
  • Pest management, or IPM (Integrated Pest Management) in museum speak  

We have to think carefully about the types of materials and substances we are using to clean in the museum as there are certain polishes or cleaning sprays which may do more damage than good. One of our staple items for cleaning is our Museum Vac, a special vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter which picks up a wide range of dust particle sizes and limits the reintroduction of dust into the air. It can be used on delicate surfaces due to its different settings, and in conjunction with the brushes and microfibre cloths that we also use.

As you might have picked up, as well as our deep clean in January we carry out housekeeping regularly throughout the year. Different tasks are carried out on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or six-monthly basis. Keeping the museum clean links into and has an impact on lots of our other collections care work.

It’s so much more than just a bit of cleaning!

The image shows two women members of AMHT staff cleaning a display case with microfibre cloths

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