Heritage Dining Chairs, Old Parliament House

Heritage Dining Chairs, Old Parliament House
Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House
Furniture Conservation


In the early 1920s, in Australia’s new capital Canberra, the building now known as Old Parliament House was designed by the Commonwealth Public Works Department Chief Architect John Smith Murdoch. Murdoch’s design was thought to be quite modern for its time. Often referred to as simplified or ‘Stripped’ Classicism, it features various square and circular motifs and is reflected not only in the building’s architecture but also in its furniture and interior fittings.

Opened in 1927 and housing Federal Parliament until 1988, this nationally significant structure and heritage site now functions as the Museum of Australian Democracy.

ICS was commissioned by the Museum to restore over 100 leather-upholstered, heritage dining room chairs from their collection.


Original to the building and designed by John Murdoch Smith, the chairs had been in constant daily use since their initial construction, and needed various types of restoration work.


ICS worked in conjunction with Fine Line Upholstery to reconstruct and reupholster the chairs so that they could continue to be used and displayed within the building. The project was carried out in several batches over approximately two years, involving the following furniture conservation works:


  • Careful dismantling of joinery to allow access to joints for cleaning and repair
  • Removal of old dowels
  • Cleaning of chairs
  • Manufacture of new components to replace those that were missing or structurally flawed
  • Colouring and polishing of new timber components to match originals
  • Re-gluing of all slits and faults in the timber using epoxy adhesive, and regluing of joinery using hide glue
  • Brush vacuum and waxing of all timber components


  • Stripping of all leather upholstery from seats, sides and back supports
  • Full respringing and reshaping of the seats
  • Stuffing seats and both sides of the back supports with solid timber blocks
  • Restuffing of the seat backs

Heritage Dining Chairs, Old Parliament House
Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House
Furniture Conservation
Before Treatment
After Treatment

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