maintenance work on G-EBOV Aircraft hanging in the foyer on Queensland Museum


Our Conservation team manages the day-to-day care and preservation of the Queensland State Collection, objects on exhibition and items on loan to the museum.

The museum cares for a huge variety of items: everything from cultural and archaeological objects, to documents and books, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, clothing, large machines, vehicles, natural history, fossils, minerals and other geological specimens, totalling over 15 million items. The types of materials vary widely too: from stone, to metal, wood, bark, plastic, paper, paint, textiles, feathers, shell, and other plant and animal material.

Our highly skilled and trained conservators work across all these collection types and at multiple Queensland Museum sites, including Queensland Museum at South Bank, the Collections and Research Centre at Hendra, Queensland Museum Rail Workshops in Ipswich, Queensland Museum Cobb+Co in Toowoomba and Queensland Museum Tropics in Townsville.

Preventive conservation

Conservation at Queensland Museum focuses on balancing the long-term preservation requirements of individual objects and material types with access to the collection. A very important part of the conservators’ work is preventive conservation, which aims to protect items from damage whether they be in storage or during use. ‘Use’ includes being on display, undergoing research, or being accessed for events, publications, or community visits.

Prevention focuses on:

  • monitoring and maintaining appropriate environmental conditions despite external fluctuations
  • controlling light levels and setting exposure limits
  • testing materials used for storage and in displays
  • monitoring public spaces and back-of-house areas for pests
  • inspecting and treating all items for pests before they enter the collection stores
  • protecting objects against physical damage and ensuring appropriate security is in place.

Remedial or interventive conservation

Remedial or interventive conservation, that is, treating damage or halting deterioration of collection items, is another part of the conservators’ work. Our approach is one of minimal intervention, prioritising the preservation of an object’s value and significance.

The conservators focus on stabilising and retaining original material, only undertaking repairs when necessary. The condition of each object and any treatments are thoroughly documented through written reports and photographs, both before and after treatment, providing good records for future caretakers.

Other conservation tasks

The Conservation team also performs a range of other tasks, including researching materials and conservation techniques, packing and organising transport of fragile objects, overseeing and training other staff in object handling, and preparing plans and salvage materials for responding to natural disasters.

Watch now

Caring for Collections video series – a conservation series by the State Library of Queensland in collaboration with Queensland Museum.

Watch series

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