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Ship and historic models conservation

conservator working on a ship model

Cleaning the model of 'TSS Dresden' 1897 Accession number 32.98

We work behind the scenes to ensure our diverse collection of models are stored and handled carefully and to preserve them. We prepare models for display and treat the problems we find. Some problems arise from poor environmental conditions, often before the model joined our collection.

Liverpool's history as a port means we have a large number of ship models, many from all around the world. Light can destroy textile threads, breaking rigging and weakening fabric sails, we often strengthen them but rarely replace them. Paints fade and flake, so we gently warm, bend and glue the paint back on.

Some of our models are tiny like the wooden models made by French prisoners of war 200 years ago, which are now almost too frail and brittle to touch. Among our giant models is the Lutyens cathedral, big enough to stand upright under the dome. This model is made of thousands of pieces of wood, but we have models made of plastic too. We are still learning how these modern plastic materials like styrene will deteriorate and what we can do to protect and stabilise them.

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