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 Network sites, including Queensland Museum at South Bank, the Collections and Research Centre at Hendra, The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich, Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba and Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville.
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:
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.
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.
Caring for Collections video series – a conservation series by the State Library of Queensland in collaboration with Queensland Museum.