The aim of the Conservation Department is to maintain and if possible, improve the condition of the collections so that they can be usefully studied, exhibited and interpreted.
Our major focus is preventive conservation - preventing, or at least retarding deterioration before more costly remedial treatment is required.
Preventive conservation focuses on controlling the four major threats to object stability - the environment (temperature, humidity, light), pests, handling and transportation.
Regular monitoring of the environment is carried out using a combination of electronic data loggers and mechanical thermohygrographs. Large fluctuations in temperature and humidity are avoided to prevent expansion and contraction of organic materials and the abrasion, cracking and fracture that may result. Light exposure is limited to prevent fading and embrittlement of more fragile organic materials such as textiles, artworks on paper and archival documents.
Pest management is always a challenge in a climate where insects flourish and the range of collection materials offers a full and varied menu. Non-toxic methods of pest control like freezing are used in preference to chemical fumigation. Mould prevention is critical with Auckland’s reliable high rainfall, requiring close humidity control and the use of buffering materials in microclimates such as display cases and storage boxes.
Conservation staff are also responsible for the packing and transportation of collection items. Requirements vary from individual objects through to entire exhibitions such as the current Vaka Moana exhibition travelling to Japan, Taiwan and Australia.
The focus of treatment is the Museum’s own collection objects, these vary from architectural structures as large as a Maori wharenui (meeting house) to objects as small as a hummingbird’s egg. Treatment priorities are guided by Collection Management priorities and exhibition requirements.
Where to see in the Museum
Objects from the collections that have been recently under the care of conservation can be seen in the following galleries:
Arts of Asia
Read about recent conservation projects undertaken at the Museum
Phone (09) 306 7085