Rehousing project

by Kate C
Publish date
24 April 2011
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Aston looking happy Aston Gibbs, Acting Manager, Collection Location Systems.
Image: Emma Hutchinson
Source: Museum Victoria

Why is Aston so happy? She’s jubilant at the completion of the History and Technology Lantern Slide Collection Rehousing project!

Collection managers, database gurus, History and Technology curators, conservators, photographers and many others joined in a huge, coordinated project to rehouse the museum’s entire lantern slide collection – that’s over 10,000 individual items – into new, custom-made storage systems. Lorenzo Iozzi, senior collection manager for the image and AV collections, has been coordinating this mammoth task for months, culminating in an intensive, week-long effort to ready the collection for its move from Scienceworks to collection stores at Melbourne Museum.

Eloise Coccoli Eloise Coccoli, Assistant Curator for Collections Online, keeping the lantern slides in order.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria

Emma Collection Registration Officer Emma Hutchinson with the new storage system for the lantern slides.
Image: Lorenzo Iozzi
Source: Museum Victoria

photographing lantern slides Staff photographing lantern slides.
Image: Ria Green
Source: Museum Victoria

MV's lantern slides are a fascinating, eclectic snapshot of all manner of topics from the Victorian era to the early 20th century. Comprising a light source, a lens and a transparent image, magic lanterns were the precursor to the slide projector and were very popular entertainment before the advent of film. Some of the more complicated projectors had multiple lenses and projected slides with intricate moving components. The video below demonstrates a magic lantern show.

The museum's collection has come from a number of sources; the Francis Collection, containing over 5500 items relating to pre-cinematic technology, comprises is a large portion of it. Before the relocation project, some lantern slides were stored in wooden crates that were as old as the slides themselves, unregistered and inadequately described simply because there were so many of them.

It’s a huge achievement for all involved:

  • they rehoused, registered and barcoded the entire collection of 10,600 lantern slides
  • they photographed 3,400 lantern slides to preservation standard
  • they prepared 2,000 object records and 4,600 photographs for upload to Collections Online

And you know what? Not a single one of the fragile glass slides was broken in the process! Congratulations, team!

The project team The huge crew who all pitched in for the lantern slide project.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria


Lantern slides on Collections Online

The Magic Lantern Society (UK)

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.