Specialist cleaners remove lockdown grime from British Museum exhibits

Slide 1 of 11: Specialist cleaners have been removing lockdown grime from ancient exhibits at the British Museum as it prepares to reopen later this month. Historic statues from around the world have been gathering dust after the museum was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Slide 2 of 11: More than 30 staff members have been working on dusting the museum's collections for around three weeks.
Slide 3 of 11: Evan York dusted a statue of King Amenhotep III as a lion, which dates back to the 2nd century BC, ahead of the British Museum reopening on August 27.
Slide 4 of 11: Fabiana Portoni, the museum's preventive conservator and dust expert, said that the accumulation of dust particles on the museum's ancient artefacts can cause long-term damage.

Slide 5 of 11: The major sources of dust in the museum include visitors, who can bring in dust from hair fibers or their clothes, and nearby traffic pollution, she said. Ms Portoni told the PA news agency: 'During lockdown, all of these sources were reduced however there was still dust present around the museum.' Pictured: The Townley Venus Roman sculpture received attention from expert cleaners after months of gathering dust during lockdown.
Slide 6 of 11: The shortage of people flowing through the galleries and disrupting the air meant dust accumulated in more unusual places where it wouldn't normally be expected to be found, she added. Only limited cleaning took place while the museum was closed, Ms Portoni said. Pictured: Statues of goddess Sekhmet line the walls in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery at the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London.
Slide 7 of 11: Physical dusting and chemicals are used to clean objects, she added, but great care has to be taken as removing the dust can also damage an object's surface. Ms Portoni said the museum's closure provided a fantastic opportunity to do a deep clean.
Slide 8 of 11: 'A lot of these objects, to be able to clean them, they require ladders and different equipment and we have to do it before opening or after opening, so the timing is a little bit reduced,' she said. 'But now, because we are closed, we can spend hours cleaning and there's no rush, so it is a good opportunity for that.'
Slide 9 of 11: The London venue will have been shut for 163 days by the time it welcomes back visitors, which is the longest peacetime closure in its 261-year history.

Slide 10 of 11: Tickets for August 27 have already sold out as history-buffs prepare to flock back to one of the largest collection of ancient artifacts.
Slide 11 of 11: Visits to the museum will need to be pre-booked and a one-way route will be installed around some of its galleries. Galleries featuring objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Assyria, Africa, Mexico and North America will reopen before more displays go on show later in September.
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