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Memento : Issue 17
Historical figures from our records sprang to life in a re-enactment of the 12 March 1913 naming ceremony of Canberra. King O'Malley, Australia's Minister for Home Affairs in 1913, led the way as Governor-General Lord Denman, Lady Denman and Prime Minister Andrew Fisher arrived at the National Archives in Canberra. This special Centenary of Federation event was held at the Archives on 12 March 2001 when rain prevented use of the site of the original foundation stones on nearby Capital Hill. But the weather did not deter the hundreds of people who converged on our Canberra building to join in the celebrations arranged by the Canberra and District Historical Society and the ACT Government. A souvenir booklet containing rare photographs of the foundation of the national capital in 1913, and the text of the 2001 Toast to Canberra written by Marion Halligan, is available for $10 from the National Archives. 14 memento may 2001 Displaying precious old documents safely was the issue our conservation staff faced when planning the Charters of Our Nation exhibition in our Federation Gallery (see story pp 1--2). The best way to preserve collection items is to store them in cool, dark, environmentally stable conditions. Our aim in the Federation Gallery is to mimic these storage conditions as closely as possible, while allowing everyone to see the precious items. Gallery lighting is kept at the lowest level possible to protect the documents from fading. Lights above the display cases are activated only by the movement of people in the gallery. In addition, blue wool indicator strips placed in each display case will warn of any potential fading. The gallery is airconditioned at all times, and temperature and relative humidity are strictly controlled to maintain the stability of the materials used in the documents. These include parchment, tin, silver, wax and shellac in the seals, colour pigments, silk ribbon and wool. Silica gel cartridges in the base of the display cases maintain relative humidity inside the cases. Each case is fitted with its own temperature and humidity probe linked to a data logger, providing an hourly read-out of conditions inside the case. The materials used in the cases, such as paint finishes, cloth lining, hoop pine support panels and metal case frames, have all been tested to ensure that they do not chemically react with the documents. Essentially, like any good storage area, the Federation Gallery provides a cool, stable environment lit to minimum possible functional levels. The bonus is that we can now all see for ourselves these wonderful documents without compromising their continued survival. Safekeeping our heritage How do you protect 100-year-old documents in a public gallery? Canberra's birthday celebrations Y Queen Victoria's Royal Commission of Assent and Australia's Consititution Act, two of the precious 100-year-old documents displayed in a glass case under strictly controlled environmental conditions in our new Federation Gallery.