After the City of Mölndal had purchased Gunnebo from the last private owners, the Sparre family, in 1949, an extensive restoration of the interior and exterior of the buildings was begun, led by Göran Axel Nilsson who was director of the Röhsska Museum and aided by conservator Sven Dahlén. It was decided to re-furnish the rooms with items from collections at the Röhsska and the Gothenburg Museum (now the Museum of Gothenburg), new reproductions copied from Carlberg’s furniture drawings, and some bought items. Landscape architect Walter Bauer drew up an action plan for the formal gardens nearest the house which was partially carried out.
70 years later it’s time for the next major restoration of Gunnebo House’s rooms. In the beautiful great halls the linseed oil veneer on the walls has yellowed, colour is peeling off in places, and plastering and earlier repairs are starting to show. Floors, thresholds and stairs are all looking worn due to the passage of time and large numbers of visitors. The house’s windows need renovating, the textiles are faded and delicate, and the almost 70 year old copper roof is living on extra time.
In 2019 the interior restoration of three rooms designated as test rooms commenced at Gunnebo. The upper east guest chamber, Miss Christina’s bedroom, and Madame Hall’s dressing room are all rooms which have suffered substantial damage, so the decision to start with them was easy. Methods and materials will be tested on these rooms which will then be evaluated in a reference group consisting of Gunnebo’s artisan crafts people and restoration architects, representatives from the County Council and the University of Gothenburg and entrepreneurs who are participating in the work.
Carl Wilhelm Carlberg’s drawings from the 1780s inform us how the room was intended to look. When you carefully loosen woodwork, panels, wallpaper and hardboard from subsequent times traces can be found of the original material and original colours. Hardly surprisingly, the colour of the tiled stoves matched that of the walls. It’s a matter of identifying the right stove; we know that several of them were moved around the house. In our three test rooms linen fabric will be stretched on the walls just as people did in the 1700s. Hand made paper from Jämtland is then glued onto the fabric and the rooms will be painted in the colours that they almost certainly were in the time of the Hall family. The previous layers of historic wallcoverings will be preserved under the new surfaces. With the help of the information found in Christina Hall’s inventory list the rooms will get new fabrics that are as near to the original as possible regarding material and colour palette, and the rooms can be furnished so they look like they used to. In this way the restoration objectives that were not quite implemented in the 1950s will now be fulfilled.