Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 133 March 2016

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Exhibitions and Loans

The Museums involved in The Museums Discovery Centre, MAAS, SLM and AM, will soon commence installation of approx. 4,000 objects into the refurbished display store. Conservation staff will be leading the project to coordinate, prepare and install objects.

Suzanne Chee has been working towards a new exhibition looking at the life of Annette Kellerman, which is due to open later in the year. Many of her costumes from her stage performances, swimwear and war effort days have posed interesting challenges for the conservator. Her knitted swimwear could not be fitted onto standard mannequins and the ‘invisible’ mannequin was a look the designer wanted to achieve. This was successfully realised with the use of Fosshape, a thermoplastic polymer (PET) non-woven fabric. Fosshape can be moulded over an existing mannequin with steam, it shrinks and becomes firm. Once it is released from the base mould, Fosshape can be cut following the lines of the swimwear, creating an invisible mannequin look.

Rebecca Ellis has also been working on supporting masks for the Kellerman exhibition with Fosshape forms.

Vanessa Pitt is currently conserving objects from the MAAS Sydney Opera House collection for an upcoming international outward loan. Frances Fitzpatrick has been working on several loans including several dresses for the NGV 200 Years of Australian Fashion, as well couriering objects to Albury for their MAMA – Marilyn: An American Idol exhibition.

Gosia Dudek has prepared and installed five Korean ceramics in the Recent Acquisition showcase and is currently working on objects for the Recollect Ceramics display to be opened to public at the end of May.

Rebecca Ellis and Tim Morris worked with the team from Victorian and Albert Museum to dismantle the Disobedient Objects exhibition, which closed to the public in February.


The project to develop a new shared storage facility at Castle Hill is almost complete. Storage racking installation will commence shortly with the building being available to MAAS, AM and SLM during August. MAAS estimates that relocation of some of its collection to the new facility will take approximately 9 months, with Conservation staff being closely involved in the project. Carey Ward has been overseeing the conservation requirements for the new Shared Storage Facility and the refurbished display store.

Workshops and Conferences

Jonathan London recently presented a talk at a MAAS Professional Symposium. The talk, Open Display: audience and objects, addressed the conservation issues relating to open display of objects in the context of visitor interaction and environmental conditions.

Environmental Monitoring

The Conservation Unit has installed a Hanwell Environmental monitoring system to monitor temperature and relative humidity in the Conservation Labs and workshop, the exhibition areas and on-site storage areas. In the near future we will also be able to access the storage areas at Castle Hill. This is great progress and we will be able to easily access the data and report the conditions, which is often required for our Loans team.


A collaborative research project with the Getty Conservation Institute has been completed. As part of the GCI Preservation of Plastics project, 6 historic 1930s cellulose acetate plastic samples were analysed by Gas Chromatography Mass spectrometry to determine their percentage of plasticizer and Ion Chromatography to calculate percentage acetyl of the cellulose acetate. Acetyl levels give an indication of the level of deterioration. Some samples had lost all their acetic acid and are now cellulose. A different type of plasticizer was identified in one sample. These results will be further studied and will provide a valuable tool to determine the level of deterioration of the other cellulose acetate samples in this historic collection.

Disaster planning

Kate Chidlow has recently completed a draft of the Collection Recovery Plan – Strategic Collections Division. She will undertake staff training in emergency preparedness soon.

Australian National Maritime Museum

Exhibitions and Loans

As always exhibitions have been keeping everyone very busy. The War at Sea-The Navy in WW1 is continuing to travel and is about to be installed in Fremantle, Western Australia. Rough Medicine; Life and Death in the Age of Sail a travelling exhibition from the South Australian Maritime Museum is currently on display and has tied in nicely with the work we are currently doing around hazardous materials in our collection.

Shackleton: Escape from Antarctica finishes on the Easter long weekend, after which it will be de-installed to make room for Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude. This exhibition is travelling from the National Maritime Museum, London, telling the story of the search for better ways of navigating by finding longitude. 

This week has brought the end of the Watermarks Gallery, keeping everyone and in particular Sarah Murray and Rebecca Dallwitz busy dismantling in preparation for the next major gallery redevelopment and the Ultimate Depth: James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE exhibition to open at the end of the year.

Our next exhibition celebratingNAIDOC week 2016 will be Munuk Zugubal; Saltwater Songlines. It brings together artworks that express the traditional knowledge of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to navigate their way across the lands and waters by singing or dancing the path of the creator beings passing down this knowledge from generation to generation.

International interest in our Indigenous Collection has increased substantially. Four Saltwater barks were displayed in the Istanbul Biennale requiring Rebecca to accompany courier them and undertake a challenging installation. Next week will see Sue Frost couriering and installing 17 shell objects at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

Meanwhile we are also very busy with other outreach activities, like the Behind the scenes tours for members, and the Women in Science Symposium which will bring with it 350 high school girls touring the lab on the 8th of March. 

Social News

In February the ANMM conservation team said goodbye to Senior Paper and Photographic Conservator Caroline Whitley, who left the museum after 9 years to pursue her Pearl Lugger dreams. Caroline’s hard work and invaluable contribution to the team will be greatly missed. Fair winds Caroline.

Preservation Australia and Conservation Resources

Beate Yule also organized our Conservation Resources sale of goodies, which was shared with many of you. We also have a small box of giveaways that we have donated to small museums.

Treatment projects

Beate Yule has been repairing a small collection of books for a Historical Society and begun yet another project for Department of Lands  – more tape removal!!

Workshops and conferences

Kay Söderlund and Tegan Anthes delivered a series of workshops for the National Heritage Board, Singapore. The first two days of workshops were focused on Disaster Planning and the following two days were Response and Recovery. The Recovery day was a team of over 60 staff including conservators and collection managers experiencing the salvage of wet, muddy and burnt “mock” collection material. It was a successful day of organization and recovery, the conservators had so much fun!

Tegan Anthes will be attending the Plastics Associated with Photographic Materials Workshop and Symposium in Tucson, Arizona in March. Tegan was successful in being awarded a FAIC grant to assist with travel and attendance to this symposium.

Policy development

Tegan Anthes is working with Rebecca Jones Museum Services on a collection management project at the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park. The project is assisting the team at ANZAC Memorial to develop collection policies to support the management of the collection. Tegan is assessing the preservation needs of the collection and providing recommendations for storage and environmental conditions.

Social News

Preservation Australia once again hosted a fabulous Christmas Party with over 40 conservators and museum professional enjoying good food and wine and of course great conversation.

Preservation Australia will be looking to organise another “Tips and Tools” session for later in the year. So if you are interested in hosting a get together – please let us know.

International Conservation Services

Treatment Projects

Wendi Powell and Katie Wood are at the tail end of a project treating a large collection of sheet music for soot damage. Bronwyn Dunn, a student from the University of Melbourne, has helped with the last push to de-soot the manuscripts and we thank her for all her hard work! Katie has also been conserving some large water damaged charcoal works on paper. 

The paintings conservation team (Matteo Volonté, Claire Heasman and Adam Godijn) have been involved in stretching an 8+ metre painting with effective results. Joining the team in this arduous task was Celine de Courlon. The work involved developing a methodology for in-painting large stained areas caused by water damage on a very sensitive surface.

Nick Flood has been working on a range of projects, including a routine assessment and treatment of a mild steel sculpture by Antony Gormley, and a complicated treatment involving structural repair and loss compensation of a pâte de verre table. Nick Flood is also managing conservation works to the Randwick District War Memorial in the lead up to Anzac Day.

In November Katy Ross completed conservation works to the Concord War Memorial in time for Remembrance Day. Katy Ross and Arek Werstak have just finished work on a marble and sandstone tablet at Goulburn’s Rocky Hill War Memorial, which involved trialling the use the Remmers Arte Mundit product.

Oliver Hull has been busy working on a number of honour boards and a large topographical map. He has also begun assessing a George III English Commode, which is a beautiful example of Georgian lacquer work most likely made by the master craftsman Pierre Langlois.

Fiona Tennant and Meredith Lynch have been working with Royal Sydney Golf Club on their archives. Fiona and the team have also been working closely with the National Trust on their stored collection.

In Canberra, Doug Rogan has just finished overseeing a large conservation project on the Old Parliament House façade. In 2015 ICS stabilised and re-painted the two painted coats of arms on the top of the building, along with conserving the copper-clad windows that are a highlight of the façade. We also cleaned and conserved the bronze light fittings and the central bronze coat of arms that sits on the portico. Doug has also been involved with a number of artwork security installations with the ISIS ( (soon to be Fortecho) RFID system, which ICS is the Australian reseller for.

The team has also been working on several disaster response jobs.

Karina Acton has been busy as the Saruq al Hadid archaeological project continues, working mainly from Sydney but making regular trips to the UAE.

Collection surveys

Karina Acton is leading the team undertaking a part survey of Brisbane City Council’s public art collection.

Katy Ross has been providing condition surveys and making recommendations for memorial collections to the Liverpool and Bankstown Councils.

Workshops and Conferences

Karina Acton and Nick Flood both presented at the AICCM National Conference in Hobart at the end of last year, and Katy Ross attended a Masonry Cleaning course at West Dean College in the UK in October.

Social news

Eliza Penrose is now on maternity leave for 9 months and we wish her all the best with her new baby.