The Mystery of the Disaster Cupboard at the Royal Pavilion

“Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go behind the scenes of the Royal Pavilion and Museums and report back to us, online.”
With those words ringing in my ears, as Blogger-in-Residence, I’ve carried out my mission fearlessly and with dedication.

Blogger-in-Residence Caroline Sutton in the tunnel between the Museum to the Dome.
Blogger-in-Residence Caroline Sutton in the tunnel between the Museum to the Dome.

As you can see, I’ve plumbed the depths for you. Here’s me underground in the secret tunnel linking the Museum to the Dome – where portly King George IV would sneak in order to be hoisted onto his horse without the public watching and obviously, laughing and sniggering at him.
I’ve sat through meetings discussing top-secret subjects such as digital inclusion and community engagement.
But nothing has tested my ingenuity more than The Challenge of the Disaster Cupboard of The Royal Pavilion. Spotted on my first tour of the Pavilion my interest was instantly piqued. “What’s in there?” I innocently asked. I was greeted with a hard stare and quick shake of the head. I was swiftly moved on.Label on cupboard saying Disaster Cupboard
Not to be deterred, I returned to the subject in a later meeting. “What’s in there? Really?”
My contact at the museum shook her head. “I don’t know – I’ve never been allowed to look.”
My thoughts were in a jumble. What sort of disaster are they expecting at the Pavilion which could be averted with the contents of a cupboard? Do they have an anti-earthquake machine inside? Is it packed full of sandbags in case of a tsunami? What do they know that they’re not telling me?
2014-08-18 14.53.47Or maybe it’s a door to an underground laboratory in case of a catastrophic event only shown in films starring Will Smith and a very ugly alien. Or space for the Tardis in case Dr Who has to come to save the jewel in Brighton’s crown from an invasion of Daleks? Or maybe…. it’s a door to another dimension?
I had to find out. With my trusty notebook and phone, I waited until my museum contacts had left their post by going on holiday.
I snuck into the room where it is – and no, I can’t reveal where. A very nice security guard watched me take photos. I told him what I was doing. I held my breath although my heart was thumping.
“I’ll show you,” he said and got the keys to open it. With shaking hands, I quickly drew my camera from my pocket and shot some images. And here I can reveal for the very first time to the world, the inside of The Disaster Cupboard.
Apparently, it’s a requirement that each museum has one and it would actually be used in a disaster. But a more likely disaster in somewhere like The Royal Pavilion would be damage to a work of art or precious object. Or something being spilled which could damage ancient floors or fabrics. Conservators would need to have cleaning substances quickly available to limit the damage. As so many of the objects are old and unique, to lose them would be a disaster, so it’s really good they are thinking ahead, particularly as the objects belong to us, the people of Brighton and Hove.Old newspapers and plastic sheeting in a cupboardA view of a cupboard containing cleaning equipment and plastic sheeting

Two hard hats inside a cupboard
Mission accomplished. So now you know, my fellow Brightonians and Hovians. Disaster has been faced full on and properly thought about and if it should happen and let’s hope it doesn’t, there’s a suitable cleaning product, gloves and cloth available in that cupboard.

Caroline Sutton, Blogger in Residence

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