Chapter One

About Cheryl Jackson, the Project Team Leader

I first started working at the National Archives of Australia in 1987, and keep coming back. My first job here was my first job as a professional Conservator. I finished University on a Wednesday in June 1987 and started at the Archives the following Monday, and I’ve been working on paper and photographic material ever since! This is my third stint in the lab (after working at the Australian War Memorial, and taking time off for kids) and I’ve been here for six years so far this time.

About the Lab

The Preservation Lab at the National Archives of Australia Canberra Office is a great place to work.

Conservation lab staff at work

(Conservation lab staff at work)

The staff in the lab is a mixture of professional conservators, conservation assistants and one conservation chemist.  Our work covers several areas all centred around the preservation and conservation of paper and photographic materials.

About our work

The Preservation work we do involves stabilising the material in our care by storing it in archival enclosures in repositories with controlled temperature and humidity levels. We also do a lot of stabilisation work on material required by researchers in the reading room. We do this work so that loose bits of information don’t get lost during the transport and handling of records.

stabilisation treatmentstabilisation treatment

(Example of stabilisation treatment – Left: before treatment; Right: after treatment. NAA: A2408, 9/105)

Our Conservation work involves intensive (and very time consuming!) treatments on nationally significant materials. The projects being undertaken in the lab at the moment include copyright exhibits, records relating to Canberra’s centenary in 2013, and, of course, the recently discovered drawing “Key to Accompanying Perspective View from Summit of Ainslie” by Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin.

View from summit of Mount Ainslie [Part D]

(Detail. NAA: A710, 51 [Competitor number 29 Walter Burley Griffin – Perspective] View from summit of Mount Ainslie [Part D])

We also provide Conservation input to the NAA’s exhibition program, giving advice on display methods and parameters, preparing items to go into new exhibitions, and providing changeover objects to go into our existing exhibitions when vulnerable material has been on display for long enough.

display about preservation

(“In Safekeeping” – display about Preservation in Memory of a Nation exhibition)

About this blog

This blog will take you through the assessment and treatment of what we call “The Key to Griffin’s Canberra” – a recent, nationally significant, addition to the Archives.  We hope you’ll take this journey with us…