Queensland Museum collections safe from floods

By Dr John Hooper, Head of Biodiversity & Geosciences Programs, Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum South Bank Thursday 13 January 2011

Minor flooding underneath the Queensland Museum South Bank, 13th January 2011

The recent floods in Brisbane, thankfully below the 1974 flood levels, resulted in minor water damage to Queensland Museum’s South Bank campus (QMSB).

No collection areas or internal public exhibition galleries were breached.

The underground car parks and the external Energex Playasaurus Place were flooded. Minor flooding also impacted on the Mephisto exhibit and some water / silt damage was sustained to the undercroft and public lift shafts.

QMSB houses Queensland’s largest zoological and cultural heritage collections and their associated research facilities.

A preliminary assessment undertaken immediately after the flood levels started to fall, when access to QMSB was possible on day 3 of the flooding, found there was only very minor impact on the collections.

This was restricted to the loss of both mains and backup power to the conventional freezers. Fortunately, a staff “chain gang” of about 30 people managed to ferry 800kg of dry ice up the stairwells and into the freezers in the Level 6 collection stores. This gave us breathing space for about 4 more days, but mercifully power was restored to essential services on day 6.

Air conditioning was also off during this period, but since the building was totally sealed, the relative humidity levels in the collection areas did not alter significantly despite the externally warm and wet conditions.

Collection and research staff have begun returning to the Museum and in the next few weeks may have limited ability to respond to clients and partners’ requests as they settle back in and review priorities.