Heritage: Conservation projects

Find out how the Royal Institution is committed to preserving its unique heritage.

  • Staircase refurbishment

    Restoring the Grand Staircase

    Credit: Royal Institution
  • Building facade restoration

    Restoring molding on the building facade

    Credit: Royal Institution
  • Conservation of an historic object

    Conservation of an historic object

    Credit: Royal Institution

Current projects

Ongoing conservation projects include work on the apparatus and iconographic collections as well as sponsored projects to conserve larger objects.

Book and paper archive conservation

In addition to the collection of iconic objects, the Ri is home to a valuable archive of paper and book material that communicates the history of science, the Ri, and the people that have been involved with it for centuries.

Find out about our project to survey and conserve the archive.

Past highlights

Refurbishment Project 2005-8

Heritage conservation played a key part in the refurbishment of the building. Towards the end of the project, a conference was held at the Ri, featuring talks by several of the people involved.

View the conference report.

The restoration of the Grand Staircase

As part of the refurbishment a number of major heritage projects were undertaken to conserve and restore key elements of the building's fabric and contents. The most ambitious of these was the project to conserve the Grand Staircase and return it to its original 18th century colourscheme.

  • Staircase restoration

    Restoration of the Grand Staircase

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Staircase restoration

    Restoration of the Grand Staircase

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Staircase restoration

    Restoration of the Grand Staircase

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Grand staircase with statue of Michael Faraday

    The Grand Staircase after refurbishment

    Credit: Royal Institution

The first stage was an analysis of the paint layers, carried out by Catherine Hassall.  This technique was also used on all interiors of the building to determine their age. The wooden handrail was then removed and conserved offsite by Scott Bowran of Warring and Lansdall while the metalwork of the banister was stripped, repaired and repainted onsite by a team from Rupert Harris Conservation. The repaired handrail was fitted back into position by Scott and finally the stone fireplace and statue of Faraday, which had been wrapped for protection during the project, were cleaned by Cliveden Conservation.

Download the projects reports:

The Japanese wallpaper restoration project

A number of major projects were undertaken to conserve and restore key elements of the building's fabric and contents during the 2005-2008 refurbishment. One of the most ambitious was a project to conserve 53 panels of embossed Japanese wallpaper in the lecture theatre, completed in 2007.

  • Japanese wallpaper being restored

    Japanese wallpaper being restored

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Japanese wallpaper in the lecture theatre before restoration

    Japanese wallpaper in the Faraday lecture theatre before restoration

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Japanese wallpaper in the lecture theatre after restoration

    Japanese wallpaper in the Faraday lecture theatre after restoration

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • Restored Japanese wallpaper

    A close-up of the restored Japanese wallpaper

    Credit: Royal Institution

Work was carried out by Mark Sandiford of Sandiford and Mapes who carefully removed the surviving panels from the theatre, repaired and reinforced them before restoring them to their places. He also created three new panels to the original specification to replace areas where the paper was not preserved.

Download the project report.

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