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Revealing the Collection of the National Museum of Australia and how it is cared for

24 October 2012

The National Museum of Australia is displaying big objects from the National Historical Collection in the spectacular entrance Hall and opening a major exhibition on how the Museum’s conservators care for the collection.

Many of the big objects from the collection have never been on public display because of their size and complexity. Large objects now in the Hall include the first car to drive around Australia, a 1936 Australian designed light aircraft, a travelling saw doctor’s wagon from the Depression years, an Aboriginal canoe made to an ancient blueprint and a delightful collection of model trains.

“This new display gives visitors the opportunity to see more of the fabulous collection of the National Museum. We want to make more of the Museum accessible and at the same time to show all of the expertise that goes into its preservation. We know from our ‘Open Days’ that there is a huge interest in the Museum ‘behind the scenes’. This new display signals that we want that interest to be met every day of the year,” said Andrew Sayers, Director of the National Museum of Australia.

A working exhibition, Museum Workshop: The Art, Science and Craft of the Conservator, will show how, behind the scenes, the National Museum cares for the National Historical Collection. This free exhibition will feature Museum conservators working on delicate photograph albums and textiles including shoes and period costumes, restoring the 1948 Daimler car used by Queen Elizabeth II during her 1954 tour of Australia, treating Aboriginal bark paintings, servicing the Museum’s chronometer collection and more.

“I would like to see many more parts of the Museum’s collection brought onto the Acton site over the coming years. This cannot happen overnight. Some of these collection items are huge and complex; it will take a lot of work to present and interpret them in the context of Australia’s history. So watch out for the next crop of big objects displayed at the Museum!” said Andrew Sayers.

Displaying more of the National Museum’s collection follows an extensive development of the public areas within the National Museum building which provides more space to engage with large objects from the National Museum’s collection and will provide a new and vibrant café which will open later in the year.

Museum Workshop: The Art, Science and Craft of the Conservator is on display from 25 October, 2012  to 28 January, 2013 at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra. Admission is free.

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au