National Library of Australia


This year at the National Library of Australia, Lisa Jeong-Reuss, our wonderful lab manager, has hit the ground running and done a fabulous job at organising the lab and keeping our troubles at bay, allowing the lab to run very smoothly.

It has been very busy in the exhibitions department this year, starting off with Keepsakes: Australians in the Great War. We have also been working hard to prepare and install items for William Strutt, S.T. Gill, Portraits of the Famous and Infamous, and of course the Rothschild Prayer Book.

The Rothschild exhibition was an amazing opportunity to not only see the beautiful and famous Rothschild Prayer book belonging to Kerry Stokes, but a good excuse to pull out the Library’s own beautiful medieval and renaissance manuscripts and other treasures, including an English gothic Psalter in its original monastic binding, Durer’s Little Passion, the Library’s oldest European manuscript fragment dating to the 10th century, a leaf from the Gutenberg bible, and several very rare music manuscripts including some antiphonal fragments! It was a very exciting time here at the Library where we were working hard on treating hundreds of other manuscript fragments that required tear repairs, infills, flattening, pigment consolidation, and surprisingly even tape removal.


Several external loans also went out this year requiring a serious amount of organisation and planning from all staff involved, but namely those involved with exhibitions.


The next upcoming exhibition is Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1911, which all Preservation staff have been working tirelessly on since February! We will have a number of items on display from the National Library of China, which will be great to see. The material has required stabilising treatments due to the brittle nature of the Chinese paper. We have also treated a number of delicate and fragile pith paintings, which have been carefully conserved by the lovely and knowledgeable Janet McDonald and Kerry McInnis. Kerry works with us one day a week sharing her infinite knowledge of paper conservation with the rest of the team.


Paper conservators, Janet McDonald and Freya Merrell, recently attended the one-day symposium on the Preservation of Digital Prints and Contemporary Colour Photographs at the AGNSW in August. In September, Lisa Jeong-Reuss and Rachel Sawicki attended a two-day XRF workshop at the National Museum of Australia with Dr. Bruce Kaiser. Denyl Cloughley and Sara Freeman will be attending the AICCM National Conference in Hobart next month where Denyl will be presenting on the environmental parameters at the NLA.


To complement our Rothschild exhibition, we hosted a one day workshop on medieval manuscripts and were lucky enough to have a practical half day workshop with Michelle Brown in the lab, asking the tough questions. Michelle is Professor of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the University of London and while she does not have a conservation background, we were able to gain a greater understanding of the history, context, materials, and techniques behind the medieval and renaissance manuscript fragments we had been working on. She was also able to identify the significance and date of origin of several of our manuscript items in the collection.

National Archives of Australia

Cheryl Jackson has been announced as the new Assistant Director, Preservation, in Canberra, replacing Ian Batterham who retired mid-year.


Suellen Bailey has been treating and rehousing personal items from Senator Faulkner, as well as finishing the intensive treatment and repackaging project on a collection of early Australian Electoral Commission posters.

Sally Kneebone is continuing work on records relating to the Clunies-Ross Administration of the Cocos Keeling Islands from 1837 to the 1980s. They are posing tricky problems due to the amount of iron gall ink deterioration and insect damage throughout a lot of the documents and volumes.  She has also finished the preparation of some records to supplement the Waterhouse Art Prize Retrospective that she’ll help to install towards the end of November.

Travis Taylor has been working on the Memory of a Nation and A Ticket to Paradise exhibitions, and Caroline MilneStephen Willett and Caterina Agostinetto have been very busy repackaging collection items in preparation for our move to a new building. Rajani Rai has been working on the necessary recordkeeping requirements for NATA accreditation of our analytical facility, as well as many photographic activity tests (PATs) and Archival Quality sample testing. Ruth Bergman has been busy dealing with the bureaucracy of the lab and the visitors we have had come through.


Clair Murray and Prue McKay attended the AICCM National Conference in Hobart, where Clair presented a paper co-written with Caroline Milne, detailing the treatment of a poster by Blamire Young, and Prue presented a poster.