Detail: Giles Bettison Vista #96 2000
glass assembled in murrini technique
National Gallery of Australia
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The National Gallery maintains and preserves its collection of works of
art in order to enhance the community’s understanding and enjoyment
of the visual arts, now and in the future.
The National Gallery cares for its works of art by applying the highest
professional standards of collection management and conservation. The
collection is maintained and preserved by:
- ensuring that all works of art are secure;
- providing high quality environmental conditions in display and storage
- developing and using appropriate handling techniques and storage facilities;
- applying preventative and restorative conservation practices.
Security of the collection
Throughout the year the collection was maintained in safe and secure conditions.
The National Gallery’s active security policy, delivered by staff
trained in safety and security procedures ensured a safe and secure environment
for all works of art, the building, the visiting public, and staff.
Security officers are crucial to the safety of the public and staff and
are trained in safety and security procedures. In 2000–2001, security
staff continued their training program in the areas of art education,
emergency procedures and first aid.
Building evacuations are practised on a regular basis consistent with
Australian Standard AS 3745, including a full evacuation involving the
public. This activity is vital to ensure the safety of patrons and staff,
and the Gallery is grateful to the public for their continued cooperation.
A security presence on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, monitors
materials objects, and staff entering and leaving the building, as well
as the Gallery alarm systems. The action plan proposed in the Protective
Security Risk Review, conducted in January 2000, was further implemented
with a contract being awarded to a security provider to upgrade the Gallery’s
Environmental conditions of display and storage
The highest standards of environmental conditions for the display and
storage of works of art were maintained. The prescribed environmental
conditions are closely monitored and building operations are significantly
influenced by the environmental conditions required to be maintained.
Routine pest control inspections and treatments were undertaken throughout
the year, and disaster recovery plans were reviewed and revised for each
major exhibition. The Materials Safety Data Sheet file for chemicals used
by the Gallery continued to be developed.
Handling and storage of the collection
Works of art were handled and stored in accordance with established practice.
Textile storage facilities were improved and over 500 large works on paper
were relocated to new storage drawers, increasing their accessibility
and minimising the risk of damage.
A review of art storage facilities was initiated in the latter part of
the year in line with plans for refurbishment of the building. The opportunity
will be taken to refurbish some storage areas and to improve art storage
at the time of building refurbishment.
Conservation of the collection
Accepted preventative and restorative conservation practices were applied
to the 925 works of art treated in the year. Works of art from all areas
of the collection including paintings, objects, works on paper and textiles
Field trips to Aboriginal communities were undertaken to collect bark,
pigment and other samples and to document artists’ techniques in
the production of bark paintings.
Paper conservators contributed to Seeing Red: The art and science
of infra-red analysis, an Ian Potter Museum travelling exhibition
in October 2000. Seeing Red opens at the Gallery on 17 November
Research on the origin and date of the Ambum Stone, the Gallery’s
extraordinary prehistoric stone figure from the Western Highlands of New
Guinea, was undertaken in conjunction with repairs that were necessary
after the sculpture was damaged while on exhibition overseas.
Condition reports were prepared on works of art which travelled and on
works of art included in Gallery exhibitions. Advice was provided in response
to public inquiries, and Gallery staff participated in conferences, seminars
and other professional activities directed at sharing and improving knowledge
about the conservation of works of art.