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Conserving our most treasured artefacts

Work to conserve some of the collection has already started to ensure they are in the best shape to go on display in museum following its extensive refurbishment.

Conservation in Action sessions

See how volunteers are conserving objects from the Maritime Museum collection. The sessions take place every Tuesday and Thursday between 9.30am – 12.30pm in the Museums Quarter.

Volunteers conserve a wooden bust from a ship's figurehead

So far, work has been undertaken to a range of artefacts including:

Two hundred year-old cannon

A team of five volunteers accompanied by the Conservation and Engagement Officer have spent around 80 hours carefully working to conserve the two cannons dating back to 1798.

They removed the old degraded paint surface on the barrels and the carriages, filling any areas of wood loss on the carriages. These have then been thoroughly cleaned and degreased before new paint layers were applied. The solid oak wheels of the carriages were filled as necessary before being coated in a protective oak varnish which will withstand the elements. The cannons date of ‘1798’ has been picked out in a dark red to provide visitors with this context more obviously displayed.

The cannon are now on display in the Museums Quarter.


Conservation of the kayak is well underway and has now reached the stage of repairing tears in the fragile sealskin of the kayak following re-shaping. The tears will be joined using a thick conservation grade fibre on the interior which has the strength to stabilise these repairs but will not be visible. On the exterior, which will be visible, it is hoped tears will either be repaired using a combination of toned calfskin or Japanese papers. These areas of repair will carefully be toned using conservation grade paints to resemble the surrounding original skin.


Thirty oil paintings from the maritime collection been conserved by a specialist company Critchlow & Kukkonen Limited based in Sheffield. Treatments include the removal of old varnish, surface cleaning, consolidation of flaking paint and repairs to canvas tears.

The paintings were selected from a collection of 400 prints, canvases and paintings. The delicate and sensitive work will take around a year to complete and will ensure they are displayed to their best potential to tell their fascinating stories.