The National Trust’s Mount Stewart has undergone a major conservation project, led by the building’s General Manager, Jon Kerr. The house had been overshadowed by the popularity of its gardens, and Jon wished to restore the house to being a vibrant visitor attraction in its own right.
Jon undertook the conservation project with the intention of improving the structure, services and interior decoration of the house. Both pioneering engineering solutions and traditional skills were combined on this project to ensure that the house would be secured for the future and retain its unique character. Mount Stewart remained open throughout the five year restoration, allowing visitors and professionals to learn more about building conservation, and specialist hard hat tours and open days were run to facilitate this further.
As part of improving the visitor experience, much restoration and conservation work was also undertaken on the portable collection held within the house. This involved detailed research and analysis, and dedicated assistance from more than one hundred volunteers and forty specialist conservators from across the UK and Ireland.
Jon’s leadership has been lauded as the driving force behind the project coming to fruition. It was his vision and ability to keep the team together, despite the complexity of the project, that has enabled Mount Stewart to become the leading attraction it deserved to be. The project has developed a sense of pride amongst everyone who worked on it; as well as building lasting relationships with volunteers. The legacy of the project lies in the opportunities it has granted for enhanced participation, education and engagement, notwithstanding the revitalisation of an important historic building which will excite visitors for many years to come.