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Oct. 25 | What it Takes to Clean a 90-Year-Old Theater Chandelier


Have you ever sat back and wondered what it takes to clean one of the 90-year-old chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in our theater? No? Well, a few weeks ago we got to actually witness the meticulous process and we have to admit— we were pretty impressed with just how much it entails! We chatted with our Technical Manager Greg Davis to find out more, and it’s no wonder why it takes such thorough care.

Every 8 months, it’s a two-person job to clean the theater
chandeliers.

First thing, we climb up the ladder and disconnect the electricity to the chandeliers in the attic. Starting with one chandelier, we raise the entire lighting fixture by a half-inch, then pull a safety pin out that it rests on when it’s in place up there.

At this point, we disconnect the safety cable and begin lowering it—but only about a foot lower. We then have to pass the safety cable and the electrics down through the fixture’s hole in the ceiling. At this point, we start the process of lowering it into the theater the rest of the way.

This is where it becomes so pivotal for the task to require two individuals—in the past, the chandeliers would just be set down until there was visible movement—meaning, the chandelier began brushing the seats and/or ground underneath it.

Unfortunately, this inevitably resulted in glass cracking and needing to be replaced. We learned our lesson, and now require one person up top to lower the chandelier and one person below to spot it so it doesn’t actually land on a seat!

The process of safely lowering the chandelier takes roughly 15-20 minutes—and I emphasize safely, as the chandelier is at its most dangerous point when it’s unattached to the safety pin and in movement. Once it’s safely lowered, we dive into aWeinberg Chandelierction, diligently cleaning the glass globe portion of the fixture; vacuuming and dry dusting the plaster and wood portions; and replacing the forty-four lightbulbs.

Before its ascent back to the ceiling, the final check requires testing all of the new bulbs to ensure they’re properly working. Once in the clear, the chandelier can begin its journey again, this time taking 30-40 minutes due to the gravitational fight with the original hand cranks.

At this point, I wipe my brow and we repeat the process an additional three times as we work our way through each chandelier hanging in the theater. Although the process is meticulous and can take a large part of the work day to fully complete, it really is all worth it when you’re back on the ground and can admire the extra shine each chandelier brings to the room!

So next time you’re enjoying a show with us and happen to glance up at the theater ceiling, we hope you feel the same bit of wonderment that we do, knowing all the love and attention that goes into keeping even the light fixtures looking timeless. See you at the theater!

 

One thought on “Oct. 25 | What it Takes to Clean a 90-Year-Old Theater Chandelier

  1. Amazing. I actually was wondering how this process was done while I sat in the balcony for the STC show. (I actually was thinking how lucky I was NOT to have to clean such a fixture!) I am surprised that it only takes 2 people. I thought that the weight of the chandelier would require 2 just to manage the slow descent and the raising.

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