Materials Conservation Unit
Working to preserve the Museum's collections and make them accessible to the community.
The Unit specialises in the preservation of Anthropology and Natural Science collections including:
• ethnographic and archaeological objects
• rare books and archives
• biology and geology collections
The Conservation unit includes staff members with skills outside of traditional conservation, such as having a taxidermist as part of the team, who lend their special skill set to the department.
Our work is divided into two major areas: preventive and treatment.
The preventive conservation programs control deterioration of the Museum's collections and includes:
• environmental monitoring and control
• pest control
• packing and transport of fragile objects
• disaster preparedness planning
• object handling
• improving storage systems
The treatment program carries out work to stabilise and or improve the condition of significant individual objects of the Anthropology and Natural Science Collections. This includes:
• remedial treatments as required
• preparation of objects for loan to other museums and cultural centres
• exhibitions at the Australian Museum
• larger scale complex treatments
Check out some examples of our work in the gallery What’s on in the lab
Staff investigate new techniques and materials which will improve the preventive and treatment programs. The Unit provides advice and training on preservation of cultural material for Australian Aboriginal communities and museums and cultural centres in South East Asia and the Pacific. Our publication "Care of Collections" provides information for people working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural collections. Respect for communities' cultural property and ensuring the integrity of natural science specimens are always a key consideration in our decisions.
Colin Macgregor , Manager, Materials Conservation