How do you move a 182 room building? Carefully. Very carefully.
Ever wanted to play out your very own Gulliver’s Travels adventure complete with Lilliputian buildings, trees, people and vehicles? This month in the museum we found our inner child as we very carefully moved our two 1:100 scale architectural models to a new exhibition space.
We are very fortunate to have two beautiful, meticulously handcrafted models of our building. Created in 2003 and 2005, the models predate the brave new world of 3D printing and are a testament to the artistry, skill, science and ingenuity of the model maker, Gary McArthur. The models bookend the period when this building was a functioning parliament. The 1927 model shows a newly-opened and modest 182 room building with clear evidence of the influence of the garden city aesthetic in the courtyards, breezeways, colonnades, verandahs and roof garden. Charming period details in the fashions and vehicles set the atmosphere.
The 1988 model shows the state of the building when the parliament had outgrown its provisional home. Gardens have been added to both sides, wings and levels have sprouted in all directions, verandahs and courtyards are enclosed, demountables have appeared on the roof and an annexe leaps into the nearby House of Representatives garden like a clunky 1980s Bridge of Sighs. Car parking is prevalent and the vehicles are nostalgic 1980s models.
They are great models—brilliant at explaining the building history and a source of wonderment for our visitors—but they needed to be moved. This turned out to be a complex and delicate operation for museum staff assisted by staff from local firm Thylacine, and Gary McArthur. First the fragile acrylic covers were detached and carefully lifted—a real undertaking on the much larger 1988 model with its extensive gardens. The models were carefully lifted out of their bases and slowly tipped onto their sides to get them through the narrow doorways—a truly tense moment as we waited to see if trees, shrubs, people, vehicles and building fragments would detach. Fortunately none did. A testament to the skill of the model maker and the quality of the glues. Along the corridors and then into the Senate Government Party Room to their new spacious position.
While on their sides true Gulliver activity started with delicate cleaning of the miniature buildings, people, trees, shrubs and vehicles using compressed air in a can and cloths. Finally they were nestled onto their new lower bases so all visitors—Gullivers and Lilliputians—can peer into and learn about this iconic building.
Come in and visit our new exhibition about the building’s history and spot the tiny Juliette balcony on the 1927 model. Clue—look between the courtyards.