Free Admission
Open Daily 9.30am to 4.30pm

How do we slow the signs of aging?

While this may sound like a skin care ad, it’s not - this is preventative conservation museum-style. When it comes to slowing the aging process of our clothing collection at the Air Force Museum there are several principles we follow – it is all about preventing damage, without the use of any anti-aging miracle creams.

The first rule of thumb is that light is not your friend, and exposure to UV rays over time will cause fading to fabric. To combat this we place our clothing in the dark, by covering or boxing items so they are safe from any light attack.

Clothing Store_Hanging Garments

Tyvek covers are used on hanging garments, like Service Dress Jackets and Great Coats.

Untitled design

Boxed Flight Helmets

Using the right type of packaging is also crucial, we use tyvek, acid free tissue and acid free card to store our collection as these materials remain chemically stable over time and don’t emit any damaging acids. We also support clothing so is maintains its original shape and is not exposed to any new stresses (or damaging folds) while it is in storage.

Clothing Store_Stored Shoes_AFM

Pair of high heel wedding shoes, in a storage box. Note the acid free tissue providing support maintain the original shape.

Environmental factors can also influence the conservation of our clothing collection.   Fluctuations in humidity can cause clothing fibres to swell when the humidity is high and shrink when it is low causing unnecessary damage. High humidity can also create the ideal environment for mould growth and high temperatures generally accelerate the natural chemical decay of materials. Luckily our stores are naturally cool, so we control the humidity within our stores (as best we can) by using our trusty dehumidifiers. This helps keep the clothing storage room within a stable range of 50% humidity and 20C.

Clothing Store_Dehumidifier_AFM

One of our dehumidifiers on the job to keep clothing store humidity at optimum level.

Finally, the key thing we do to prevent damage is handle our clothing collection like gold! We use gloves to stop any of the natural oils and impurities that are on our hands transferring onto the surface of our items.

Clothing Store_Uniforms_AFM

Nitrile gloves worn to protect these flight suits from greasy hands.

Clothing Store_Preparing Uniforms_AFM

Mark 3 and Mark 5 Flight Suits awaiting their new Tyvek covers.

By following all these preventative conservation principles, we are ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy the real RNZAF clothing story!


Watercolour – ‘Air Force Day 1981’ by Wing Commander Maurice Conly. Artwork depicts the two United States Force F-15 aircraft on the tarmac at the Open Day: F-15c 780500 (left) and F15c 780508 (right) both from the 67th Fighter Squadron, 5th Air Force USAF. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Air Force Day ’81

Aerial oblique view of Corsair NZ5320, from No. 3 Servicing Unit, after crash landing in Piako Swamp, 27 October 1944. Image ref HIST489, RNZAF Official.

‘A few of our favourite things’: celebrating 1 year of our photos online

Gloster Meteor NZ6001, flown by Squadron Leader RM McKay, over the Auckland area, 14 February 1946. Image ref OhG2976-54, RNZAF Official.

Meteoric rise: New Zealand’s first jet flight

Open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm (except Christmas Day)
Entry to the Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

45 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch | 03 343 9532

We welcome visitors of all abilities