Spectrograph on the Move


The Collection Management team was busy during March moving some of the Scientific Instruments collection into a new store. Most of the items in the collection can be lifted by one or two people, packed securely in a tub, and transported in a truck to their new home. However some items are so heavy we need to employ specialist movers.

One such item, SC1996.5.1 a spectrograph made in England in 1952 by Adam Hilger Ltd, is mounted on a cast iron bed. Used by the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney, it was transferred to the Macleay Museum in 1996. A spectrograph is an instrument that separates light into a frequency spectrum and records the signal using a camera. The very heavy cast iron frame ensures that the precision device is stable when being operated, reducing any vibrations.

To move the spectrograph, which is both heavy and has a fragile mechanism, we employed a specialist company who normally moves safes. In many ways safes have similar properties to the spectrograph as they are heavy and the lock mechanism is relatively delicate.

To lift the spectrograph on to heavy duty dollies they used a pallet jack. As the spectrograph is heavier at one end, the first challenge was to find the centre of gravity so that it would sit stably on the dolly cart.

Once on the dolly cart they were able to move the spectrograph out of the store and on to the landing where the truck was parked. The truck was equipped with a crane which they used to lift the spectrograph on to the truck’s bed, where it was secured for the short journey to the new store.

At the new store the crane was used to lift the spectrograph off the bed, back on to the dolly cart and into its new storage position. To remove the spectrograph from the dolly involved a reversal of the process, using wooden chocks, slowly and gently lowering it to the ground.


Spectrograph in its new store