Large half-circle stained glass window installed on a dark wall, allowing the lit glass to stand out in contrast. The stained glass features a City of Winnipeg crest in the middle framed by a green wreath.
February 2, 2020

Monumental Moves: Sweating over Big Artifacts (Part 2)

Monumental Moves: Sweating over Big Artifacts (Part 2)

It’s time for the sweaty part of the blog – not the panicky sweating type of emotion I first experienced when large fragile artifacts were being transported all over the city – but literally sweaty in the sense that big artifacts get your muscles moving prepping them for exhibition. Our first workout began after the stained glass window was delivered to Prairie Studio Glass for its complete restoration. Prairie Studio undertook the joyful task of dismantling the entire window, which started with making a template and numbering over 300 pieces of glass. Next, the components were taken out of the original wood frame and piece by piece placed into containers. That’s when the conservation team decided to join in on the fun and help scrub 100-year-old putty and dirt off each individual piece. After three and a half hours, and only a small section of the puzzle back together, Conservation Technician Loren Rudisuela and I decided we would leave the rest up to Prairie Studio Glass staff. 

A large section of the stained glass window on a flat surface. To the left, gloved hands of someone out of frame are removing pieces of glass from the came.

Removing the glass pieces from the old lead came.

Image: Prairie Studio Glass 

The second time the Loren and I went back to the studio was to help squish new putty in-between the lead came after the pieces were put back together in their new frame. This was a lot of elbow and thumb grease to make sure everything would be secured. A few weeks later and the big day arrived for the window to be installed into its new wall niche, again making me sweat a little more watching it being hoisted about fifteen feet in the air after having it painstakingly restored. But everything went according to plan and you can now see this amazing artifact on display in our new Winnipeg Gallery! 

Conservator Carolyn Sirett (left) and Conservation Technician Loren Rudisuela (right) working either side of a work bench, putting putty onto the new lead came of a large stained glass window.

Carolyn and Loren putting putty into the new lead came. Image: Prairie Studio Glass 

Three individuals supporting and lifting a large stained glass window up to a hole the shape of the window near the top of the wall in front of them.

Installing restored window into the new gallery. Image: © Manitoba Museum 

Two photos side-by-side. On the left, an adult and child walk hand in hand towards a doorway leading into the Winnipeg 1920 Cityscape. Above the doorway is a large half-circle stained glass window. On the right, two adults with a child between them stand facing a doorway leading into the Winnipeg 1920 Cityscape, looking up at the half-circle stained glass window above the doorway.

Restored stained glass window now on exhibition in the new Winnipeg Gallery. Images: © Manitoba Museum / Ian McCausland 

Another big workout was prepping the Eaton’s lintel for its debut and installation. Architectural features are beautiful to look at, however harsh outdoor environments can really change the finish to some of the materials. For our Eaton’s lintel, the visible deterioration was mainly on the brass components where years of oxidation, rain, snow … lots of snow … and pollution left a layer of thick corrosion along the surface. Once again, we rolled up our sleeves and spent several days scrubbing off the corrosion. 

Conservator Carolyn Sirett and Conservation Technician Loren Rudisuela, both wearing face masks, sit or kneel on the ground working on the brass edging the limestone lintel laid out on the floor in front of them.

Carolyn and Loren cleaning the brass on the Eaton’s lintel.

Image: © Manitoba Museum 

Another added touch to the treatment included making a replica rosette for one that was missing. Installing this artifact was a monumental feat on its own as it required careful lifting, mounting and engineered bracketing in order to ensure its long-term preservation. Now in its new home, I think I can finally put down the workout towel for a little bit – until the next big artifact rolls into the lab. 

A limestone lintel framing a projector screen in the Manitoba Museum Winnipeg Gallery.

Eaton’s lintel installed in the new Winnipeg Gallery.

Image: © Manitoba Museum / Ian McCausland 

Carolyn Sirett

Carolyn Sirett

Senior Conservator

Carolyn Sirett received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba, Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, and Diploma in Collections Conservation and Management…
Meet Carolyn Sirett