Object Conservation: A technical examination project

Object Conservation: A technical examination project

Join me, Cat Williams, over the coming months as I investigate and conserve one of Te Papa’s recent acquisitions – a painted wooden shield from Papua New Guinea. Yes, it is decorated with The Phantom!

Shield (painted with the Phantom character), maker unknown. Papua New Guinea. Purchased 2015. Te Papa (FE013021)
Shield (painted with the Phantom character), maker unknown. Papua New Guinea. Purchased 2015. Te Papa (FE013021)

Items in our national collection have fascinating biographies and often there is still much to learn. Take a look at this blog post One of the Good Guys: Phantom Shields in Papua New Guinea by our fabulous Curator Nina Tonga.

I on the other hand will be researching the tangible material elements of this incredible shield, especially the paint, looking for answers to questions like:

How can I document the materiality of this shield? – I get to use Te Papa’s resources, as well as my new gadgets!

What can looking at paint uncover about the life of this object? – I know I am biased, but paint under a microscope is a beautiful thing.

Who else has such items? What do they know about them? How can we learn together? – Institutions, objects, researchers – connections are everywhere when you start looking!

So I will start with questions, and go from there.

Catch my short updates documenting my progress in the Te Papa laboratories, reaching out to experts across the world and generally tackling this intriguing project.

Cat Williams

Author Introduction
clwI often get asked “what do you do at Te Papa?” The answer is, lots. I have just completed my qualification as an objects conservator from the University of Lincoln in the UK. There are no courses here in NZ, but I completed my research while at Te Papa. Now I am a Loans and Acquisitions Advisor, a Visitor Services Host and an Object Conservation Intern/Volunteer in the Conservation Department. I get to enjoy Te Papa’s collections from a multitude of angles!

Contact me at: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/catherine-williams-1194a779 or catherine.williams@tepapa.govt.nz


  1. This is such a great shield, I can’t wait to read more about it and the investigation process ! Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  2. Looking forward to following your progress. What a fascinating job. Don’t forget the textiles….have you come across the new textile magazine FABRICATE? It’s owned and edited in Auckland.

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