Working on Cartwright Hall

Visitors to our website or indeed, to Lister Park may have noticed that Cartwright Hall Gallery was closed for the first month of the year.

Helen Thornton, the site Manager has written a blog for us explaining why….

She writes:

Due to essential upgrades to our security systems at Cartwright Hall, the whole building has been closed to the public between 1st January 2018 and 1st February 2018.

This project has been essential for the gallery to meet stringent international standards. It will enable us to work more closely with high profile national and international institutions to bring some of the world’s most prestigious art to Bradford in the future. And we have been fortunate also to secure some external grant funding to help us with this work.
SO what exactly is going on?
Well, because these are security works then the precise information is, of course, sensitive! What I can say is that we are having new, state of the art (no pun intended) equipment inside and out, the latest technology to keep Bradford’s Art Collection safe whether on display or in store, day or night, open or closed. Our CCTV cameras will provide excellent images and will cover all angles within the building, on the roof and around the exterior.
We have also been able to take the opportunity of the project to improve the appearance and location of the equipment. Our contractors have been busy following old wiring through the bowels of the building and stripping out what we don’t need.

Follow those wires
Follow those wires –  stripping out the unneeded ones.

When Cartwright Hall was built at the turn of the 20th century it had an elaborate and innovative (for the time) air conditioning system with vents and passages through roofs and wall voids in order to circulate the air. So we have been able to use these to conceal new wiring. We have also been able to use smaller, better placed equipment so we don’t spoil the fabulous views of our beautiful internal and external architectural features.
Outside our contractors have had to contend with some freezing conditions to reach the roof areas and a cherry picker arrived in a break in the snow showers! <image 2>

Cherry picker arriving
Cherry picker arriving

On some galleries – such as the new David Hockney Gallery – this work would have been impossible if we were open to the public. To protect the art from accidental damage we have removed the most vulnerable items from the walls.

Moving the artwork
Moving the artwork

This has meant ‘all hands to the pumps’ to, very carefully, take large and fragile pictures from the walls and place them in designated areas with the right protection.

Our Museum Assistants have had special training in handling art and we have lots of specialist equipment.

Specialist equipment for moving artwork!
Specialist equipment for moving artwork!

So, with the advice and guidance of our Collection Officers and Curators, the work has been completed efficiently and without incident. This has also presented an opportunity to refresh some displays (for example in our Print Room) by putting prints from storage on display and giving the previous displayed prints ‘a rest’. We have also taken the chance to check our database records are up to date.

So all in all, despite the closure the project has been useful on many levels and will provide us with a new security system we can be proud of.

When we reopen on 1st February the work continues behind the scenes but there may be the occasional short term individual gallery closure for completing the project. But the new David Hockney Gallery and the upper floors are finished.

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