What is January Closure, Anyway?
If you’ve tried to visit Montpelier in the beginning of January, you’ll find that we are closed to the public for what we call January Closure. Now while we may be closed to the public, there is certainly plenty going on behind the scenes! January Closure is a vital time of year- providing the Curatorial and Collections Department and the Preservation Department with essential time to complete important maintenance and cleaning projects which otherwise cannot be completed when we are open to the public. In the past years, a multitude of different projects have been completed, from wall paper installations, to plaster repairs to entire room installations. This year, with major installations completed previously, we could focus our efforts on thoroughly cleaning the house from top to bottom. While our team of Museum Technicians spend several hours every day cleaning in the house before it opens to the public, January Closure provides us with the time to access those areas that are usually inaccessible on a normal day. We move furniture around and bring in tall ladders to help us access areas usually out of reach – all things that cannot be done on a typical operating day.
One important cleaning and maintenance project that is completed during our January Closure is the removal and subsequent cleaning of both our interior storm windows and the interior windows themselves. This gives us a chance to open the windows up, clean out bugs that can get trapped and to take care of the glass by cleaning it. We have great professionals who come and clean all the windows for us, using only water and a little bit of Dawn soap – no commercial cleaners used here! This also gives our Preservation Department a chance to take a look at the historic windows themselves and make sure everything is in good condition or if something needs some work.
The rest of our projects during this year’s January Closure involved cleaning every room from the ceiling to the floor! Armed with our backpack vacuum with a HEPA filter, some soft bristle artifact dusting brushes, and cotton cloths, our approach in each room consists of four general parts. First, furniture is moved to make space for a ladder so that out of reach spaces are accessible, and can then be thoroughly cleaned – working top to bottom. Secondly, we take care of cleaning the furniture pieces, making sure to get all accessible surfaces – from the tops of bookcases to underneath sideboards. Our third part to each room is cleaning the empty spaces where we have moved the furniture out- why put a piece of furniture back without cleaning underneath and around it?! Finally, we individually dust each small object in the room, using an artifact dusting brush and backpack vacuum to catch all the dust particles. While dusting, we also do small condition assessments and make notations of anything that might need further evaluation. Once the objects are done the room can be put back together.
In just about a week and a half the Curatorial and Collections Department were able to clean all the ~12,260 sq. ft. , leaving the house – room interiors and the collection – primed and ready for another year.
Jenniffer Powers, BA
As the Curatorial & Collections Collections Manager, Jenniffer works behind the scenes and beyond the ropes to provide care and maintenance for the entirety of the Montpelier Collections – both on display and off. Jenniffer is passionate about making collections and collections management accessible to the public and loves using the Collections Department Instagram account to highlight pieces of the collections.