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Ben Chifley's chair conservation

National Museum conservators conducted treatments on the chair used by former Prime Minister Ben Chifley. Labor politician Ben Chifley became Australia's 16th prime minister in 1945, and the chair was used by Chifley at the Hotel Kurrajong where he lived while in Canberra. Chifley chose to stay at Hotel Kurrajong rather than in the Prime Minister's official residence, the Lodge, believing it would save the taxpayers' money. As Hotel Kurrajong was remodelled, and experienced periods of closure in the following decades, the chair was placed in storage to be saved because of its reputed significance as one of Chifley's favourites.

During the 1980s, the Australian Labor Party donated the timeworn chair to the National Museum. In preparation for its display in the Landmarks gallery the chair required conservation treatment to stabilise the existing damage and restore it to its former appearance. Several techniques were used during this treatment. The separated leather parts were secured into position by stitching cotton thread through the existing stitch holes and the leather was gently pulled together. Using pre-existing holes ensured that the chair was not damaged further. Acid free tissue was used to pad out and shape the repaired leather where stuffing had been lost.

Photos: Lannon Harley.

View more about Ben Chifley

View more about Ben Chifley's brown leather armchair