Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Four-sidedness: boxes, houses and coffins

We continue to prepare the ground for the completion of the lighting installation and other VERVE redisplay plans by moving and re-homing material. Museum conservator Andrew has provided the following update:

Firstly, the large music collection, removed from the Upper Gallery some weeks ago, has now been re-housed in its new home at our off-site storage facility. It took some time to get the space ready due to issues relating to environmental suitability, management and the logistics of ordering enough shelving for 400+ objects and transporting them, but the task is now complete!

Next was the move of the second model house from Papua New Guinea. These were collected in 1888 by H. H. Romilly and were presented by A.W. Franks to the Museum in 1893 so they are old and important ethnographic objects. 

This second house is labeled: 'Model of a pile dwelling Motu Tribe, S.E. New Guinea'. It's not known how long it has been above the wall cases in the Court, but probably more than 70 years. The houses are made from palm wood and palm leaves which are very fragile and easily damaged, and it was not possible to clean them safely in situ. They were moved to the Conservation lab where we have been cleaning and stabilizing them before they return to new, more visible locations in the Court.

Technician Alan getting ready to move the model house

What 70 years of dust looks like! 

The model palm houses in the lab. The difference between
the cleaned one (foreground, PRM 1893.42.3) and the
dusty one (PRM 1893.42.2) behind it, is marked.

Andrew shows the difference a careful hoovering job can make

Lastly, as the Made for Trade exhibition was dismantled after its successful run, the specially-commissioned Ghanaian coffin from the Kane Kwei fantasy coffin workshop in Accra has been moved to a new position in the Court, above the introductory case on the left as you come down the entrance steps. Painted with product advertisements to make it look like a shop front, it makes a colourful and attractive addition to the newly lit upper levels of display.

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