The story began when curators from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter (RAMM) approached Constantine about moving two of their most impressive objects – a 17ft stuffed bull Masai giraffe, known as Gerald, and a 1.5 tonne African bull elephant, to a new natural history gallery close-by.
The RAMM had been home to Gerald the giraffe and the elephant since 1919, so it was vital they were protected from dust and potential damage before any renovation work could begin.
Mark Hunt, our Head of Technical, recalls “Moving the animals proved quite a challenge – we were dealing with two objects constructed in very different ways, so many elements had to be considered.” In addition, the giraffe’s skin had become very dry and brittle over the years, with the original stitching lines showing. Much like the giraffe, the elephant’s hide was also very dry and firm as it had slowly deteriorated over time.
The museum’s Conservation Officer, Alison Hopper Bishop, commented: “We didn’t know whether the internal metalwork, especially joints, had started to deteriorate. Moving objects like this, which have stood in the same place for nearly a hundred years, can spark off a host of problems, so there were some pretty tense moments for everyone during this move!”