Behind the scenes at Artlab

The cultural boulevard of North Terrace is hard to miss, with the University of Adelaide, the State Library, the Art Gallery and the Museum. But what you might be surprised to learn is that this precinct also houses the Southern Hemisphere’s largest conservation centre.

Artlab Australia is a SA Government Agency tasked with conserving our cultural heritage. When we visited, Conservator Eugene was busy working on a 1950s sideshow banner, ‘Zarita,’ that was previously on display at the Bay Discovery Centre at Glenelg. The aim is to prolong its life and restore some of the damage that was caused when this historic banner was unknowingly folded up in a storeroom.

So dedicated to preserving the integrity of the items they restore, it took a whole team just to transport the banner to the lab, as Eugene explained.

“Saving things like ‘Zarita’ — which is one of five banners left here in South Australia — is important. If we lose ‘Zarita,’ then we only have four banners and we lose that link to the past.”

The scope of work undertaken is often surprising to people that take Artlab’s public tours. The work also extends to personal treasures and family heirlooms — be it a vase, painting, doll, textile, book or paper item. If you’ve got something that’s really important to you and you’re worried about its condition, then why not take one of their fascinating tours or inquire about their twice-monthly consultation days? Check out the website for all the details.