Conservation in Australia, Past Present and Future: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference, 19 – 21 October 2011 Canberra
The National Museum of Cambodia holds a collection of 3500 glass plate negatives, as well as a large collection of photographs. The glass plates date from the early 20th century and the images on the plates include museum objects, as well as street and temple scenes, Angkor temples, and dance positions. Therefore the glass plates hold important cultural and historical information. The plates were stored for many years in unsuitable conditions; stacked on top of each other and with no environmental controls. the age of the plates, the unsuitable storage and the tropical environment has led to the plates being in varying stages of deterioration.
A project was organised by Australian Business Volunteers to undertake the conservation of these glass plate negatives. Previous projects at the museum had carried out some preservation work on the glass plates, however a full condition assessment and cleaning had not been done. Therefore photographic conservators Debra Parry and Jane Hinwood worked on assignment at the Museum, on behalf of Australian Business Volunteers. The goal of the project was to assess the condition of the glass plate negative collection, train the Museum staff in the appropriate treatment, and carry out this treatment. As with all the projects of Australian Business Volunteers, the aim was not to simply do the required treatment but to train the local staff. The purpose was to enable the museum staff to undertake the required preservation work to ensure the collection is correctly stored and maintained, so that this important collection of early 20th century photographs is preserved for the future.