THE Eureka flag has moved.
In a three-day, carefully planned and meticulously carried out operation involving just 18 people, the historic icon moved from the Art Gallery of Ballarat to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
The process began at 7.30am Monday with three Art Gallery of Ballarat staff working to place the flag and its display case in its own purpose-built travelling case.
Art Gallery of Ballarat director Gordon Morrison said the flag was much lighter since it had been sewn to a new cloth matrix as part of its 2011 restoration in Adelaide.
“It’s not that difficult to move now. The backing is strong and flexible and light,” Mr Morrison said.
The display case proved a bigger challenge, with an expert brought temporarily out of retirement to handglaze the front glass after no machine was found to be big enough for the task.
The flag was lowered into the travelling case in Police Lane about 9pm Monday to minimise potential dangers to pedestrians and because it was too big for the gallery’s loading bay.
However, Mr Morrison said the cobblestones did pose potential risks.
“Even minute patches of ground could cause problems. We had to plot it down to the finest detail,” he said.
Mr Morrison said security staff carried the flag on a truck to its new home with assistance from Ballarat police.
“It was carried out with military precision,” he said. “But you do have to remember, it was only a trip of about three kilometres. It hasn’t left town, it’s just on the other side of Ballarat.”
The flag was then rested at MADE for 36 hours before its installation began.
“The normal procedure is to rest it for the same amount of time it was in transit but the longer you can make the resting period, the better
it is,” Mr Morrison said.
Five people were also needed to carry the showcase glass, which measured 43 metres by 28 metres.
MADE director Jane Smith said the flag showcase was cleaned by MADE collections team and its manufacturer TASHCO before the flag was installed and the showcase glass replaced.
“It had to be done very carefully,” Ms Smith said.
“You couldn’t make any impetuous moves.”
She said the entire operation was overseen by conservator Kristen Phillips from South Australian-based Artlab, which restored the flag in 2011.
“It was a very detailed and multi-disciplinary team,” she said.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, which has been the custodian of the flag for more than a century, has lent the flag to MADE, which will open on May 4.