Roz Currie, Curator
In May we came down into the museum to find water up to our ankles. Following very heavy rain, a deluge had raced down St John Street and come up through the basement floor of the museum.
We were very lucky that the flood was only a few inches deep. The first job was to remove as much water as possible with specialist hoovers. We also used dehumidifiers and fans to help reduce the humidity in the air and stop any mould starting to grow.
A lot of our objects are very sensitive to humidity. As you can see from this graph, our humidity was a lot higher than usual after the flood –it is normally about 50%, but went up to 65% at its peak.
I took very sensitive objects off display and into the store for about a month. For example our Joe Orton book covers, which are stuck with glue, might have come apart in the damp so were packed away until normal humidity had returned.
Floods are very bad things for museums to deal with –once objects get wet or mouldy it can be very hard to look after them. We were very lucky as no objects actually got wet. We have had one casualty which is a cast iron fireplace which has become rusty as a result of the humidity. I will be assessing it to do conservation work in the next few weeks.