Paul Westerberg has spent a lot of time in front of the mirror lately, but it’s not vanity that keeps him there – it’s dust. Westerberg, a collections technician at the Smithsonian’s Castle, has spent two weeks with a cotton swab meticulously cleaning the 11-foot nine inch tall mirror that hangs just inside the east entrance of the Castle.
The mirror was owned by David Tod, who was elected Ohio’s 25th governor in 1862 and served until 1864. The frame, approximately 150 years old, is gilded gesso over ornately carved wood. The mirror was donated to the Castle Collection by a descendant of Tod’s in 1981.
Knowing when “enough is enough” is key when it comes to cleaning the collection items in the Castle. “You have to be very careful not to over clean an item and possibly damage it,” said Westerberg. “The mirror’s frame is particularly challenging because of its ornate design and its gilding is incredibly delicate. You have to be mindful of every single movement you make.”
Westerberg’s work is only half done, however. The past two weeks were just enough time for him to clean the lower part of the frame—the upper half (the frame’s most ornate portion) is yet to be done. Because this will require a ladder and the mirror is in a high-traffic area close to the staff entrance, Westerberg will have to work at times that are less busy, such as weekends.
Posted: 6 February 2010