Behind the scenes – exhibition preparation

Behind the ‘staff only doors’ of  State Library many staff and volunteers work everyday on a range of activities for our clients today, and for future users. We’re highlighting some of these activities and staff to give you a behind the scenes view of the library and the work that we do.

Have you ever wondered how SLQ prepares objects for exhibition? Read on for a peek at how staff in Exhibitions conservation prepared architectural models for the recent Hot Modernism exhibition.

In the lead up to an exhibition, each display item is assessed by conservation, documented and prepared for display. We mostly conserve books and paper based item, so it was a real treat to have a number of mid-century architectural models in the lab!

In the photograph below Preservation Assistant Kathy Young carefully cleans one of the models used in the exhibition. This original model of the TAB Building in Albion was created by Geoffrey Pie Architect in the 1970s. Fortunately this model had been stored with its original perspex cover and was in relatively good condition. However a build-up of surface dust had accumulated over time and required attention before display.

Preservation Assistant Kathy Young cleaning the TAB Model, on loan from private collection, Brisbane.

Preservation Assistant Kathy Young cleaning the TAB Model, on loan from private collection, Brisbane.

Notice the fine model details such as cars, figures and foliage in the picture below. To avoid disturbing these original elements a specialised vacuum cleaner on very low suction was used, along with a series of soft goat hair and other fine brushes to carefully dislodge and remove soiling on the model surface.

Detail of TAB Model, on loan from private collection, Brisbane

Detail of TAB Model, on loan from private collection, Brisbane

Likewise, the original Torbreck Apartments architectural model also required attention before display. This Highgate Hill building was created by Job and Froud Architects in the 1960s.

Along with cleaning the model required consolidation of flaking paint and plaster to minimise further damage. Below, Conservator Gajendra Rawat applies a weak gelatin solution with a fine brush to resecure areas of flaking paint. The head loupe he is wearing magnifies the area being worked on and alows an accurate application of conservation materials only to the necessary areas.

Conservator Gajendra Rawat consolidating flaking paint on the Torbreck Building architectural model, on loan from Fryer Library, UQ.

Conservator Gajendra Rawat consolidating flaking paint on the Torbreck Building architectural model, on loan from Fryer Library, UQ.

More on the Hot Modernism exhibition.

Information on preserving your collections at home.

Kelly Leahey, Exhibitions Conservator.