Cleaning and conserving polar bears, a sloth bear and a tiger skin at Somerleyton Hall

Two mounted polar bears and a sloth bear plus a tiger skin required cleaning after being on open display at Somerleyton Hall on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

The polar bears were brushed down and then cleaned with cleaning foam. Although not much dirt came out of them their appearance was much improved and they were rubbed down with industrial methylated spirit to remove any deposits left behind by the foam.

Above left, one polar bear before cleaning. Above right, the same bear after cleaning.

The sloth bear looked slightly dirty yet required several cleanings to remove all of the deep-seated dust and stains in his much thicker fur.

Above left, the sloth bear before cleaning. Above right, the sloth bear after cleaning.

There was also a tiger skin mounted on the wall that appeared to have suffered the abuses of being over-touched. It was rather bleached and brittle and had suffered many rips and tears.

Above left: the tiger skin before cleaning and conservation. Above right: after cleaning and conservation. The holes to the far right and far left were too large to repair but were stabilised. The image below shows a stage in the repair of the tiger skin, using fine Gampi tissue and neutral pH conservation grade PVA adhesive.

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We are members of the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

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