AIM Pilgrim Trust – Ely Museum

Ely Museum – Remedial conservation grant
AIM grant: £3,073
Conserving the Ely sedan chair

Ely museum is an independent museum in the small city of Ely. Its collections cover local stories from Fossils to the present day. The museum closed for redevelopment in September 2019 which has allowed vital conservation to take place.

The Ely Sedan Chair has been on public display for many years and has suffered some wear and tear. It was identified as part of a conservation audit as in urgent need of treatment. This project aimed to conserve the sedan chair to ensure its future stability and to allow the museum to display it once again when the museum re-opens.

Tristram Bainbridge of Bainbridge Conservation (London) was contracted to carry out the work. The surfaces and the wool interior were cleaned. The areas of stable leather were cleaned, and structural repairs were carried out to the sliding window and frame. The joints were repaired and, where there were losses, new pine timber was carved to fit. Carbon fibre rods were used through the tenon and rail to add further support where needed. New timber was pieced in around the break on the door jamb around the catch and on the back PR hinge. The areas of loose textile were reattached, and the areas of degrading leather were consolidated. Tears in the leather were repaired and the stiffer sections on the top were first humidified and then the leather was attached.

The work was completed to a very high standard and the chair is now on display in the new galleries, ready to welcome visitors when circumstances allow. Without funding, this work would not have been possible and the Sedan Chair would have had to be removed from public display.

The museum’s Chair of Trustees Lis Every said “The AIM Pilgrim Trust funding has allowed Ely Museum to employ a specialist conservator to care for and preserve this important item from Ely’s past. This work will ensure the future preservation of the Sedan Chair, as well as providing enjoyment and learning to many future visitors to the museum.”

Elie Hughes, Curator, Ely Museum

Pictured: Ely Museum Sedan chair before treatment (left) and after treatment (right)