Sir John Soane Museum Foundation

Conservation at the Soane

Gunn Conservation Centre logo
The Gunn Conservation Centre logo was designed by
Robert Van Nutt and was inspired by
one of the ceiling medallions at the Soane.


John and Cynthia Gunn pictured with Soane Foundation President Thomas A. Kligerman at the dedication
John and Cynthia Gunn pictured with Soane Foundation
President Thomas A. Kligerman at the dedication


Archives of past Bulletins and News

PDF - Support Conservation Form



Soane museum
Image of the three facades of the museum with
conservation area noted


Soane museum

conservation at the Soane
Front conservation studio overlooking
Lincoln’s Inn Fields


conservation at the Soane
Rear conservation studio

conservation at the Soane
Paper conservator at work

conservation at the Soane
Frames awaiting review and treatment

conservation at the Soane
Frames being worked on

conservation at the Soane
Library foot stool in for inspection

conservation at the Soane
Delicate cleaning and vacuuming around
the architectural models



Cover of the Special Newsletter on
Conservation at the Soane


The year 2017 marks the Fifth Anniversary of the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Conservation Centre at Sir John Soane's Museum. The Gunn Conservation Centre was created and funded with support from friends of Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation, a United States registered non-profit organization. This initiative was launched in 2011 to mark the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Soane Foundation.

The new centre was opened in the Summer of 2012 and dedicated that September. The Soane Foundation has continued its support for conservation by helping to fund annually the Assistant Conservators position at the centre and other initiatives. With more than 49,000 objects and items contained within the three houses at Lincoln's Inn Fields, it is an ongoing and never ending job and exploration for conservators, curators and students in the field of conservation and care. While conservation space was not new to the Soane, the new centre expanded added a greater capacity for appropriate care and treatment of items. Also, the centre became a dedicated conservation zone, whereas in the past it shared space with other functions and served as storage for the museum - not an ideal situation when dealing with delicate objects or working on the gilding of a frame.

We hope you will join us with your support as a Friend of Conservation.

Insider's View of the Gunn Conservation Centre at Sir John Soane's Museum, London

Architects plan of the Second Floor of No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14

The Gunn Conservation Centre now comprises dedicated spaces that provide more than 50% additional space in two adjacent areas in No. 12. The blueish colored space is the front studio overlooking the park of Lincoln's Inn Fields; the orange is the rear studio. The small green box indicates the new elevator, which provides access to basement, ground, and first floors and ends at the second floor Conservation Studio – allowing making it ideal for movement of objects between floors. The white middle area is No. 13, which contains the public tour areas, including the private apartments and the Model Room. To the right of the dividing walls is No. 14. This area is not part of the public tour – it is the Research Library and Adam Study Centre.

The Soane Foundation posed two questions to the Museum and the conservators to better understand the scope of conservation at the Museum and the work that is undertaken:

Why is a conservation centre so important to the Museum vs. sending objects out to outside conservators?

With more than 49,000 items in the Museum (30,000 drawings, 7,000 books, 7,500 works of art including building archives), it is not cost effective to send objects that require minor treatments out of the building. It is preferred practice not to have objects leave the security of the building. Treatment in-house reduces the amount of time objects are off display. It is very important that cleaning and repair to objects be done with reference to their settings so that the rooms maintain their visual integrity. Items that do require outside conservation services must first be assessed in-house and documented, prior to any work done; thus the need for on-site work spaces. Objects requiring outside specialist services can include sculpture, furniture and oil paintings.

With what does the conservation team generally deal?

Key areas are:

(1) Works on paper – architectural drawings, watercolors, drawings, prints, archival material, both framed and unframed and printed books; (2) Museum objects – including plaster casts, architectural models and stone fragments, among which are antique sculpture, carved wood, ceramics, metals; (3) Conservation within Rooms – cleaning and repairs to the entire museum rooms i.e. the historic painted surfaces; (4) Furniture, frames and display cases - cleaning, care and review.

In addition to the above, the in-house conservators undertake the following responsibilities: (1) Monitoring and controlling – light, temperature and relative humidity levels in the whole museum; (2) Preventative environmental measures – including pest management and control of dirt ingress; (3) Disaster planning – establishing and maintaining disaster response equipment; (4) Conservation housekeeping – setting up and managing a regime of routine conservation cleaning, which involves training and supervising the warding staff in daily care of the public spaces. Also planning and running a systematic program of "deep cleaning" of the museum rooms (comprehensive surveying and cleaning of rooms and their entire contents); (5) Exhibitions and loans – assessment, treatment, condition reporting, photography, preparation and wrapping of every item. Works on paper are also mounted and framed in the Conservation Centre; (6) Numbering objects – a systematic program of numbering all museum objects and furniture with a modern reversible number; (7) Record keeping – conservators write comprehensive reports on every object that undergoes treatment of any kind.

Please consider helping us with our annual funding of the Assistant Conservators position in the Gunn Conservation Centre as well as our funding of special conservation initiatives, by making your donation today.

We hope you will join us as a Friend of Conservation or to make a contribution. Please click here to Join Us!

Gunn Conservation Centre logo
The Gunn Conservation Centre logo was designed by
Robert Van Nutt and was inspired by
one of the ceiling medallions at the Soane.


John and Cynthia Gunn pictured with Soane Foundation President Thomas A. Kligerman at the dedication
John and Cynthia Gunn pictured with Soane Foundation
President Thomas A. Kligerman at the dedication


Archives of past Bulletins and News

PDF - Support Conservation Form



Soane museum
Image of the three facades of the museum with
conservation area noted


Soane museum

conservation at the Soane
Front conservation studio overlooking
Lincoln’s Inn Fields


conservation at the Soane
Rear conservation studio

conservation at the Soane
Paper conservator at work

conservation at the Soane
Frames awaiting review and treatment

conservation at the Soane
Frames being worked on

conservation at the Soane
Library foot stool in for inspection

conservation at the Soane
Delicate cleaning and vacuuming around
the architectural models



Cover of the Special Newsletter on
Conservation at the Soane


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