Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Antique Crystal Chandeliers Find a New Home in Lovett Hall 

August 21, 2015 Think THF, Archive Insight

Exhibit Fabricators Rob Brown and Kent Ehrle carefully removed the chandelier arms after Electrician Paul Desana disconnected electrical power to the arms. The center portion of the chandelier was then lowered into the lift and handed to a group of waiting staff who moved it to the conservation labs on a custom-made cart.

In 2014 conservation, facilities and exhibit staff members removed two English crystal chandeliers from the museum shop in Henry Ford Museum in preparation for the upcoming renovation. The chandeliers, which were made in Birmingham, England between 1860 and 1880, had been in the shop for many years and were showing signs of age. The silver portions were heavily tarnished and the metal wires that held the crystals were corroded and brittle. We decided to conserve them prior to their move to a new home in a rather dark lounge just outside of the Lovett Hall Ballroom, where their glittering, cut-glass elegance would be appreciated.

Conservation Specialist Fran McCans (left and right) and Conservation intern Aaron Burgess (left) began the process of relocation by removing the crystals and globes from the chandeliers.

Before conservation could begin it was up to Fran McCans to carefully label every piece of each chandelier. Digital images were created as were detailed drawings to ensure that the chandeliers could be easily reassembled after treatment. All silver components were polished with a paste made from caulk, anionic detergent, water and ethanol. The silver components were then spray lacquered to prevent them from tarnishing.

Repairs were made to threaded metal parts as required. Every crystal and bead (more than 1,000 on each chandelier) were cleaned with soap and water and carefully rewired. All internal wiring was inspected by Paul Desana to ensure electrical safety.

(A special thanks to the staff and volunteers who worked on this project. In addition to those mentioned above the successful completion of the project was due to the talent and dedication of: Marie Gramer, Deb Luczkowski, Glen Lysinger, Doug Beaver, Harvey Dean, George Yee, Brooke Adams and Mose Nowland.)

chandelier-renovation-3

Both chandeliers were reassembled in the conservation lab and each individual crystal was carefully wrapped with foam by Fran and Andrew to prepare for movement to Lovett Hall. A small hand crank operated forklift was fitted with a custom-made jib designed by Kent Ehrle and Rob Brown and fabricated in aluminum by Rob in order to safety lift the fully assembled chandeliers into position.

chandelier-renovation-4

Here, Rob secures the chandelier to the ceiling , while Kent (right) carefully raises the forklift as Paul shines a light in the then-dark room.

chandelier-renovation-5

To finish the project, Conservation Technician Andrew completes the project by adding the globes and the last of the crystals to the chandeliers. The fixtures can now be seen in their home inside Lovett Hall.

This post was compiled by Mary Fahey, Chief Conservator, John Lundh, Manager of Exhibits Technology, and Charles Sable Curator, of Decorative Arts, at The Henry Ford.

chandeliers

Facebook Comments