With team work and good planning the de-installation of Brian Clarke’s The Glass Wall went off without a hitch!
In three days our team of three preparators, one collections and exhibitions manager, two conservators, and two outside contractors removed all 245 panes of glass, and all of the hanging hardware and steel support structures. Most of the work was carried out by our outstanding preparators who had to climb on ladders and scaffolding to reach and release all of the glass components.
Each large section of the window is made up of 35 smaller sections held in place with hardware and various set-screws. To dismantle, one person supports the adjacent glass panes, and the other loosens the set-screws. Once released, each panel is then handed down to another person and placed into specially constructed slotted crates. What makes it particularly difficult, is all of this is done some 30+ feet above the floor level!
Most of the panes were in excellent condition, although they were extremely dirty. There were about a dozen panes with loose cames which will need to be reattached. One pane had an old break in it. It had been repaired previously, but needed a little clean up in the lab.
One thing we hadn’t thought about in our extensive planning was that the panes would be slightly loose in the slotted crates. We realized it quickly and improvised with small squares of volara (closed-cell polyethylene foam) and acid-free board tucked around the panes to prevent them from rattling while they were moved. We also found that some of the panes were slightly wider than others. Luckily the difference was not a big enough to be a problem.
Now that the panes are safely in our offsite storage facility, the next step is to clean them and repair the loose caming.
More photos of taking down The Glass Wall:
by Warren Bunn, Collections and Exhibitions Manager and Astrid van Giffen, Assistant Conservator