“This piece of museum and art gallery furniture seems to have been with us forever”.

These were the words of one of our longest serving staff members. The Museum ticket box was used long before the Century Theatre was built in 1977 and is thought to have been built by Leo Bestall the founding director (1936 – 1959) for use at concerts performed in the Louis Hay Bestall and Malden galleries.

Considering the history of this piece of furniture within our organisation we had a strong case for its restoration and a desire that a piece that’s been an integral part of everyday operations be taken forward with us into the new building.

On assessing the ticket box before I began work it was clear it had been subject to running repairs over the years, to the base especially. Some of these were not compatible with good furniture repair practice. I made a decision early on that the base would need to be completely replaced with a replica of the original.

The original base, replicated as part of the restoration process

The replica base was built using recycled Kauri. The joints at the base were dowelled and a biscuit jointer was placed either side of the dowels to help strengthen the joint against side loadings.

The ticket box itself was completely dismantled into its component parts and the old finish removed. The unit was held together by an assortment of large screws which were visible. These screw holes were counter bored so that when the unit was reassembled the screw fixings could be covered by matching Kauri plugs which were then sanded flush with the surface giving a more professional appearance and finish.

The unit was reassembled plugged and finish sanded down to 240 grit. The ticket box was then attached to the new base, this time fixing invisibly from the inside as opposed to the original which was screwed from the outside.

The restored ticket box ready for staining

The finished unit was then stained and coated in a two pack Urethane finish which is very durable. This newer Urethane two pack fits very well with the museums policy of only using products that do not have any harmful off-gassing risks that might cause harm to our collection items.  This product has no formaldehyde, unlike its predecessors and as such, once the initial cure period has elapsed, presents no long term danger from off-gassing.

The finished unit is still recognisable as the piece it always was, with some of its time-infused character purposely left as a reminder of the many years’ service it has already given to the institution.

It now stands ready to give many years’ service to the new Museum.

Ken Miles
Exhibition Construction & Maintenance
November 2012