Dismantling the case One of National Museums Liverpool’s most iconic objects – the Titanic builder’s model, has been on the move. It has been on display for the last 8 years in the Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress gallery. This gallery is now closed and will open again in March 2015 as a new gallery Lusitania: Life, Loss, Legacy. The Titanic model has been moved up to the second floor to our award winning exhibition Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story. But hang on a minute, just imagine the preparation and planning that goes into moving a very large (6 metres long, 1 metre wide, 1 metre tall), heavy (over half a ton), old (built in 1910), fragile (some parts are made from paper and card), and valuable object like this! For the last few months, colleagues from across divisions (Registration, Curatorial, Estates Management, Ship and Historic Models Conservation, Ship Keeping and Engineering, Exhibitions, Visitor Services) have been working hard on putting in place the logistics to ensure that the model was moved in the best and safest way possible:
The Ship and Historic Models conservation team at work
Stage one First, the gallery had to be closed off and a safe working area established around the model. Then the huge case built around the model had to be carefully dismantled and moved up piece by piece to the second floor. Next a specially made crate was built around the model, again piece by piece as it was so big. When that was ready the whole first floor of the museum had to be closed so that the crated model could be carefully moved through to the end of the building.
Stage two The only way to move the model up a floor is to take it out of a large window at the end of the building. A doorway had to be temporarily dismantled to allow this, and a huge gantry erected on scaffolding built outside the window. The model was carefully moved onto the gantry. Next the model was carefully lifted down by crane onto the ground, whilst the height of the scaffold was increased up to the second floor window. Then, the model was lifted back up onto the gantry, rolled into the building, placed into position on gallery and unpacked from the crate.
Craning the model out
Stage three Our Historic Models Conservation team then spent a few days checking the ship model for any damage and giving it a bit of a spring clean before the case was erected back up around the model, and the gallery will open again tomorrow, on Saturday 15 November. This kind of project relies on the skills and experience of many people and departments across National Museums Liverpool, many of whom work quietly away from the gaze of the public to ensure that our exhibitions, displays and events can be produced and enjoyed by the public. Step forward all and take a bow! Some more information on the Titanic ship model: