Mountmaking 

Mounting the Japanese samurai armour

Almost every collection item put on display requires some kind of support that will hold it upright in a case, secure it to a wall, or keep it from moving in a drawer. In order not to put unnecessary stress on the item, it is supported in the most natural way possible, often with a custom-made mount. These mounts must fit the items closely to keep them safe, even through an earthquake.

The type of mount needed is decided by design and conservation requirements, the materials the item is made of, and its weight. Good mounts can help enhance our understanding of the item while remaining quite unnoticeable themselves. Mounts for taonga Māori (Māori treasures) require special consideration to ensure the mount design recognises both the physical and cultural needs of the taonga.

Depending on the collection item and where it will be exhibited, a mount can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to make. Most Te Papa mounts are made from materials that won’t harm the collection items over time. These materials include acid-free cardboard used for book mounts, foam inside cloak and body forms, black fabric covering forms, and plastic coating used for cushioning on parts of the metal mounts.

Mountmakers work closely with conservators so they are aware of any particularly vulnerable qualities of the collection items they support.