Research project profile
Left to accumulate on objects, dust becomes unsightly. But it can also chemically react with an object’s surface causing damage. And even the most careful cleaning can cause very slight damage to objects. The best policy, therefore, is to minimise the amount of dust falling on the objects as much as possible.
To measure the amount of dust in our state apartments, we leave glass microscope slides out at various locations and at various heights. After two weeks lying undisturbed, we collect them and measure the amount of dust which has fallen on them. This is done using a microscope, and computer software which identifies and counts dust particles. We are repeating this monitoring process over a few months to build up a picture of where most dust collects and how this changes with the fitting of new carpets.
Our method for monitoring dust was developed at Historic Royal Palaces and won a conservation award in 2004.
We will get the results of this particular study in October, but we carry out routine dust monitoring in other parts of the palace too. We use the monitoring results to tell us how well our protective measures (such as stanchions, mats, and barriers) are working to prevent dust falling on objects.
We have been working with colleagues at the National Trust, English Heritage and the University of East Anglia to discover the effect of dust on historic surfaces, and how we can reduce dust falling in our Palaces. We are grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for funding this research. (www.leverhulme.org.uk).
Learn about conservation
'Caring for the palaces' articles:
- What is preventive conservation?
- What is treatment conservation?
- Our sworn enemies: light, dust and other agents of decay
More conservation science research
- Hampton Court’s tapestries: how long will they last?
- Virtual reality for Hampton Court’s tapestries
- Mission impossible: Reigate stone conservation project