British Decorative Arts Gallery

New York, NY

The three stone mantels—Norfolk, Chesterfield, and Heathcote—were removed from historic homes and installed in the British Decorative Arts Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum in the British Decorative Arts Galleries. They date from the late 16th century to the early 19th. As part of a planned re-installation of the galleries we were contracted to assess the condition of each mantels and develop a disassembly plan. The goal was to study and document conditions, locate assembly seams and internal reinforcing if feasible, perform non-destructive investigation to identify structural systems where practical, and to determine the means and methods of removing and relocating the works. Our conservators studied the mantels and provided a detailed assessment for each mantel including photographic documentation, description, AutoCAD drawings, observed conditions, and recommendations for safe removal, storage and re-installation of each.

After acceptance by the client, the work was implemented. Norfolk and Heathcote were disassembled along original stone assembly joints, and stabilized on pallets before being transferred to storage. The much larger Chesterfield mantel, with its marble Caryatids, was deemed too fragile to withstand disassembly and re-assembly. A custom designed aluminum tranfer frame was fabricated and installed inside and around the mantel. After carefully undermining the stones the whole was successfully hoisted and set of a pallet on which it was transferred to secure storage. We will reinstall the mantels late in 2018 in preparation for the new galleries’ opening in 2019.