A Modern Mission: Preservation, Restoration, Conservation
The mission statement of Biltmore is “The preservation of Biltmore as a privately-owned, profitable, working estate.” With an emphasis on preservation, it’s no surprise Biltmore prides itself on having an in-house conservation department.
Putting Preservation First
The Museum Services department oversees all things regarding the preservation of Biltmore House and its contents. While the team works daily behind the scenes, its efforts are evident in every inch of Biltmore House and beyond.
Members of the Museum Services department spend each day researching estate history, and often make new discoveries about the Vanderbilts and their friends, family and associates along the way. The same meticulous fact-finding goes into the work that the team’s preservationists and conservationists do when restoring objects from the family archives. These tasks are part of the ongoing mission to preserve and showcase Biltmore House in an authentic manner relevant to George Vanderbilt’s time.
Playing Detective in America’s Largest Home
When restoring a room or area of Biltmore House, Museum Services team members play detective, poring over historical documents and scrutinizing the site’s details to confirm its original purpose. That information serves as the basis for restoration plans. The team’s goal is to present an accurate representation of Biltmore House during the time the Vanderbilt family lived in it.
When it comes time to recreate decorative elements for a project, Museum Services goes to great lengths to ensure materials for the rooms are recreated in an authentic manner. For example, when restoring the Tyrolean Chimney Room, one of the most opulent guest bedrooms in Biltmore House, Biltmore commissioned Atelier d’Offard based in Tours, France, to reproduce the wallpaper. This company was one of the few in the world that could recreate the paper using the same techniques used to craft Biltmore’s wallpapers more than a century ago.
Conservation is the Key
Another key component of the Museum Services department is the conservation team. Three professional conservators and three conservation technicians spend hours each day documenting the condition of objects in Biltmore House’s collection and restoring them to their original beauty or preserving them as they are. There are approximately 50,000 objects in Biltmore House’s collection, which includes an extraordinary collection of fine art, antiques and books. This vast collection, paired with the seasonal needs of care and cleaning, ensures the team stays busy keeping Biltmore’s priceless collection in pristine condition.