Friday, 3 May 2013

A Story of Museum's Model Collection, a Guild and a Community Success - The Franconia Project - Part 2

Lynn-Marie Richard, Registrar, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Part 2 of 3

RMS Franconia, is a builder’s model of a famous ocean liner, and it dates back to 1923.  It had been badly damaged during a move in the 1960’s and had been tucked in the back of our storage room ever since.  The Franconia was a favourite of Broadway and Hollywood stars; she was a troop ship during WWII and later brought immigrants to Canada.  She was scrapped in Scotland 1956.
1) The badly damaged stern of the model RMS Franconia

After several meetings we drew up a plan of ‘attack’ and took the Guild up, on their offer.  Then came the first road block:  the model was too big to fit into the 1st floor workshop.  So what were we, to do? We didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have the model restored by these volunteers, who had so generously offered their time and already had a proven track record with the model restorations. So we decided to take more of the museum's floor space and build a second workshop - one big enough to accommodate the 15’ model.  So, on the 2nd floor in our Age of Steam Gallery next to the Cunard display, we built a bigger work shop, where the public could watch the restoration. 
2) The Franconia restoration nears completion in the new workshop

Of course that was only one of the challenges! We had to get the huge model from our storage room on the 1st floor to the new shop on the 2nd floor.  Another road block.  It is a good thing we have a creative carpenter on staff, he devised three dollies to set the model on and a sling to get the model out of her display case and onto the dollies, then it was carefully transported up to the 2nd floor.  I am happy to report that the move was smooth sailing.  Once the model was in place, the volunteers set to work, they removed the 686 brass portholes, took  the model down to her  bare hull and started from there.  They divided the model into seven sections and each section was worked on one by one, documented and dismantled in a very time consuming and methodical manner.  This was a huge project which required a lot of dedication and patience on the part of the modelers.
Two years later and over 2800 hours of volunteer time the model was completed.  Now she is on permanent display for all to see.
Another huge success!  But there is more.

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