The Fairbairn collection includes over 100 artefacts of various types; clothing, a sword, hair ornaments made out of human hair, items used for sewing , just to name a few. All of these objects need to be stored in the best possible way.
Housing is the process of making protective enclosures for objects to be stored in. By housing an object or group of objects we are creating a micro environment; temperature and humidity become more stable, direct light is deflected, materials are not damaged when handled or when placed on a shelf. Housing can be a box, folder or tray that has been custom made and fitted out to the exact requirements of the object. Inert materials and/or acid free board are used.
Some of the objects in the Fairbairn collection required conservation treatment before they were housed. For example, the leather had detached from the front of this object but was reattached during treatment.
Some objects required individual housing (for example clothing items, sword and shoes) but the majority of the objects could be housed in groups. These groups were determined by object type and the material it was made of (for example all the coin purses made from similar materials are in a group).
This was done not only for ease of locating a particular object but because different material types can need different storage conditions and some materials can affect other materials if stored together (for example the vapours released from wood can cause metals to corrode).
Each object was arranged to fit into a box in such a way so that its weight would be evenly supported and so that it can be retrieved without being damaged or damaging neighbouring objects. Then layers of board and/or foam were built up to support the items.
Labels were placed to give direction on safely removing the objects from there housing. Labels were also placed on the outside of the boxes to identify what each box holds as well as the correct way to place each object inside the box.
Custom supports were made for some objects. For example the internal support for this hat.
Each item in the Fairbairn collection has now been housed and placed carefully into long term storage with the rest of the State Library of Western Australia’s collection.