Father Mut's Sitting Room

In spring 2007, Father Mut’s Sitting Room was closed to the public to allow May Paintings Conservation to stabilize and clean the wall and ceiling finishes.  They had previously conserved finishes within the adjoining room and last year performed similar conservation treatments of the historic Serra Chapel entryway.  All work formed part of an overall plan for the stabilization and preservation of the South Wing building and Serra Chapel. 


To assist with the project, preservation staff removed all furnishings and decorative objects from this space to provide unobstructed access to the walls for the contractors.  The de-installation of the wooden furnishings provided an opportunity for the museum conservator to perform a conditions assessment and cleaning of these furnishings.


Pre-treatment conditions such as dust accumulations, loose joins, and abrasions were documented in writing and with digital photographic media. 


During Treatment

An initial cleaning to remove loose dirt and dust was performed with natural bristle brushes and vacuum suction.  Solvent testing of the individual wood finishes of each furnishing indicated that mineral spirits was ideal for removing entrenched dirt without affecting the surfaces finishes of the furnishings.

Here the Museum Conservator is wiping away more adherent dirt with a clean cotton cloth that has been dampened with mineral spirits.    


Synthetic Wax

To protect the newly cleaned surfaces, a synthetic wax was brush applied to all exposed areas of the furnishings with a natural bristle brush.  Synthetic wax coatings are a relatively benign way to seal finished wood and prevent ingrained dirt accumulations.  They also ease future dusting efforts.  Each furnishing received two applications of wax.       


After Treatment

After each wax application, a light buffing was preformed with clean, lint-free cloths and a natural bristle brush to impart a luster to the furnishings.

After treatment, this desk has had much of the original warmth of the wood restored.       


Current Display

At the end of the project, all furnishings were returned to the room where they are currently on display.   



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Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Funds
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

For questions, please call Barb Beier at (949) 234-1323 or email bbeier@missionsjc.com
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