Lit Sung Goong Drum Conservation

Jun 15, 2022

OBJECT – T236  Temple Drum, Lit Sung Goong Collection

This  wooden drum and detached pig skin was salvaged with other important objects from the Cairns Lit Sung Goong temple in Grafton Street by the Chinese community after the building was sold in 1966.

Conservation of the drum was completed in 3 stages with funding from the National Library Community Heritage program and Connected Communities Far North Queensland.

Conservation of the drum was undertaken by conservators at ICS (International Conservation Services, Sydney)

Conservation treatment : Stage 1 and 2 Treatment Methodology


** The original skin was too damaged and degraded and too small to stretch over the drum

  • Surface clean, brush vacuumed, sponge cleaned and aqueous swab cleaning.
  • Stabilised paint with Methyl Cellulose
  • Flatten/humidified skin, initially under weights
  • The skin was pressed under vacuum press
  • The skin was so degraded that it was lined onto a temporary, toned tissue backing using starch paste.
  • Adhered fabric skin to opening


– Surface cleaned surface of drum with dry and aqueous cleaning techniques
– Stabilise surface paint as possible
– Applied a protective varnish
– Stabilised corrosion on metal tacks
– Humidified and straightened drum ribs as best as possible
– Adhered ribs to each other where possible

Stage 3 – Aesthetic enhancement 

  • The dragon painted drum skin additionally stabilised and attached to new velum skin with appropriate adhesive.
  • The damages to the decorative dragon painting on the drum skin toned in to increase the readability of the image and allow appreciation for the original decoration.
  • The vellum stretched as much as possible and attached to the drum to prevent the skin curling up again in the future.
  • The losses to the red paint on the drum body re-touched 
  • Additional cleaning od the second drum to help with preservation and increase longevity of the skin. The added benefit is improved aesthetic appearance of the painted decoration
  • Tone in damage
                                                                                        Photo Above: International Conservation Services

          Cairns & District Chinese
          Association Inc

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