Preparing for Celestial Empire—part one

2015 has been an exciting year with the lead up to our upcoming exhibition, Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644–1911. Preservation staff have been working hard to prepare a number of items for display including books, pith albums, and maps. Some of these items required stabilising repairs so they could be safely mounted, handled, and exhibited.

Strutt your stuff! Reducing pesky stains

Many of the items on display in our Exhibition Gallery for the William Strutt exhibition, Heroes and Villains: Strutt's Australia, previously had dark orange and brown staining on their corners from deteriorated sticky tape or adhesive where it may have been previously mounted. These dark adhesive residues had begun to stain the objects all the way through to the front of the work. As this was accelerating the rate of degradation of these works, we have attempted to remove as much of the adhesive and stain as possible without causing harm to the work.

Fragments of colonial commerce

The Library’s Manuscript Collection is a veritable treasure trove for intrepid researchers to uncover new and exciting fragments of our cultural history. These treasures include rare examples of Australian currency, such as this unimposing scrap of paper dated 1812, which promises its bearer payment of ‘two shillings and sixpence’.

Ann Mash Promissory Note

Ann Mash's prommisory note, from the Sir John Ferguson Collection (MS 3611)

Beyond the surface: The construction of a Psalter

In preparation for display in the Library’s current exhibition Revealing the Rothschild Prayer Book c. 1505–1510 from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Preservation Services was very excited to receive into its care a fourteenth-century English Psalter MS 1172. The Latin text is dated to 1330–1350 AD and features annotations and drawings by a sixteenth-century Welsh school boy. The manuscript remains in what appears to be its original monastic binding.

Preserving the very recent

I was introduced to the world of digital preservation when I was a youngster. Sitting in my high school IT class, there was a video we were asked to watch which told the history of computing. It had all sorts of wonderful information about the early days—the 1940s—when small furry creatures got into the computer hard drives and were coined computer bugs. 

A medley of Medieval Manuscripts

It’s not often that Australian conservators get the chance to work with fragments from the Medieval era. However, this year the whole conservation team at the National Library had the privilege of working with 108 fragments of medieval manuscripts collected by Rex Nan Kivell. The fragments, all in much need of some conservation attention and time, was the focus of this year’s Tax Time Appeal project. The parchment fragments arrived in the Preservation Services laboratory in varying states of disrepair due to their use and re-use as paste- in’s for books produced in later eras.


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