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10th February 2022

Portraits, planes and nests – the beginning of the Library restoration project!

The first phase of the College Library restoration project is under way, with artwork temporarily removed from the Library for restoration and cleaning.

A team of six removed the Library’s art collection, a variety of oil paintings and prints, this week. They also safely removed a couple of extra surprises: an array of paper aeroplanes around the top of bookcases and an empty bird nest!

The Library art collection contains portraits of Fellows, students and key figures associated with the College. One of the largest pieces is an oil painting of Elizabeth Shiers who left a significant bequest to the Library upon her passing in 1700, which current students still benefit from as it enables the Librarian, Joanna Bowring, to purchase additional books and resources as requested.

Exeter alumna Georgie Dennis (1988, Modern History) will carry out the sensitive conservation and restoration of the artwork on-site and in her Hampshire studio. Georgie will use a combination of ancient techniques and modern technology to repair worn pictures and frames that are in bad condition due to a combination of age and damage caused by proximity to the heating pipes.

The planned restoration measures to update the Victorian heating system in the Library will help control the temperature of the building and prevent future damage to books and the art collection (as well as making it a more comfortable environment for readers!). The replacement of the heating system is just one element of the restoration that will help to significantly reduce the Library’s carbon footprint.

Exeter’s Chaplain, the Reverend Andrew Allen, keeper of the College Art Collection, said: “It’s fantastic to see the restoration project commence in the Library. Conserving the artwork preserves the College history and identity whilst protecting the collection so that it is in excellent condition and safe for future generations of Exonians. I hope these pictures will continue to encourage and inspire users of the Library.”

Find out more about the exciting plans for restoring Exeter’s much-loved Library.

Artwork being removed from the library

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