Preservation Housekeeping in Historic House Museums

This workshop will look at improved preservation of historic house interiors and collections by recognizing the special needs of historic house museums, assessing and reducing the causes of damage and deterioration, maintaining the building fabric, and undertaking housekeeping activities using appropriate methods and products for preservation.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • recognize and reduce the effects of the "agents of deterioration"
  • predict the effects of cleaning and maintenance practices on many materials and objects found in historic house museums
  • clean collections and historic interiors in a "conservation approved" manner
  • develop a template for a housekeeping plan


Proposed topics include:

  • The special needs of historic house museums. Preservation needs versus visitor wants.
  • Recognizing and reducing the "Agents of Deterioration". Documenting damage.
  • The building as an artifact. The building as the first line protection in protecting collections. Building maintenance and documentation.
  • Basic theory of cleaning. Preservation housekeeping versus janitorial cleaning. Handling objects. Appropriate cleaning methods for textiles (carpets, drapes, upholstery), furniture, metals, decorative arts, paintings, glass and ceramics, floors, ceilings, windows, railings, wall paper, etc. Contracting specialists for treatments and repairs.
  • Developing a housekeeping plan. Stocking a preservation housekeeping supply cupboard. Staff training and reporting.

Delivery Strategy

A combination of lectures, discussion, small group exercises (i.e. problem solving), demonstrations and hands-on activities.

Target Audience

Staff of historic house museums responsible for the care and cleaning of interiors surfaces, applied decorations, fixtures, fittings, furnishings, and collections. This workshop is not intended for commercial heritage buildings.


Amanda Salmon and Janet Mason


English and French

Enrollment Limits

minimum: 10; maximum: 20


Two days