Polygon protects art collection in aftermath of fire at Finnish museum

Polygon’s 24/7 emergency restoration services were called into action following a fire at Pori Art Museum, one of Finland’s most prestigious museums of contemporary art.

The blaze, which took hold late one Sunday evening, was ignited by a truck in a close-by yard and soon spread to the roof of the museum. The fire department arrived with several rescue units to confine the fire to the museum’s roof structures.

While there was fortunately minimal water damage and impact to the interior of the building, there was, however, smoke damage to the premises and the art collection. Furthermore, a section of the roof had to be demolished by the firefighters on site, which meant that a significant part of the museum was left without shelter in the wake of the fire.

Rapid response work

Polygon Group company The Tehokuivaus Team was alerted to attend the site for urgent response work as soon as the rescue service had extinguished the fire and it was confirmed that there was no risk of re-ignition. The team had obtained information of the incident in advance, so the extent of the damage and the size of the team required were already known.

The foreman’s examination of the situation at the fire site concluded that the first appropriate measures were to provide ventilation and to protect the pieces of art. Another quick-start, post-control task involved moving and protecting furniture and removing odours.

Art poses challenges to rescue work

To minimize damage to the art collection, the fire department decided to carry out the extinguishing work with as little water as possible and, as a result, any water damage remained minor. However, some of the extinguishing water had been allowed to drain into spaces where the art was stored, which meant the protection of the art works remained one of the most important tasks of the entire the process.

The special requirements for the handling, preservation and cleaning of art brought their own challenges to the work, and the skills of the museum's own were crucial in combating the subsequent damage to works of art and transferring the pieces to shelter.

The threat of rain places urgency on the protection of the roof

After a meeting with city representatives the following morning, the Polygon team began building a shelter on the museum’s roof, almost 100 square meters of which had been demolished by the fire. With the museum’s interior left exposed to the elements and the weather forecast threatening rain for the next few days, Polygon had to work rapidly.

The removal of burnt insulation and frame parts, the reinforcement of the structures, and the construction of the plywood roof went smoothly, meaning the roof protection was ready just one day after the fire.

After the roof of the museum had been protected from the weather, a moisture examination was carried out. The next couple of weeks were spent dismantling the internal damage and installing a dryer. The aftermath of the damage continued for weeks and involved cleaning the fire debris from the outdoor areas of the art museum, deodorizing, cleaning the interior, and cleaning, moving and packing the furniture.

The finished result

Thanks to the restoration work being carried out quickly and efficiently by Polygon, some of the premises of the art museum were able to open a short time after the fire. The large exhibition halls, meanwhile, are subject to ongoing renovation work, meaning they remain out of use for the time being.

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