As a result of the artefacts, and historical collection in which the Fremantle prison is made up, there is a need for constant preservation and conservation to sustain the heritage of over 133 years, and one of the most important heritage and tourist attractions in Australia.
Since the period of decommissioning of the prison in 1991, and since when it has been permitted to serve as a tourist site and other commercial activity centres, proper conservation has been put in place to retain and maintain the integrity of the place.
Fremantle prison is among the most extensively documented conservation site in the whole of Western Australia and even the entire Australia. Some of the steps involved in the conversation include:
- Heritage Management Plan: The Heritage management plan of the Fremantle prison follows some guided outlines following the Australian conservation act of 1999. The plan is released periodically and constantly updated. The recent management plan was released in 2019, it is a holistic document containing key areas to guide the management of the prison, all its components, and artefacts. Some of the key areas considered in the document include; universal value, Archaeology, Community engagement, Recordkeeping, Physical conservation, Aboriginal cultural heritage, etc.
The previous release of the management plan was in 2010, and the current one will be reviewed in 2024.
- Conservation projects: Part of the conservation method is the conservation projects carried out alongside regular maintenance. The conservation projects are part of the implementation of the Fremantle prison master plan for the year 2019 – 2029. The projects scheduled to maintain the facility are well thought, researched, and documented to allow for consistency and compliance with the prison’s conservation policies. A large number of projects have been carried out since 1991 and the extensive work done has made a large contribution to the goal of conserving the prison site. Several projects have been undertaken since inception and completed up to date, the scheduled projects are put at the centre of the uniqueness of the facility and what it embodies, this guides in tailoring the projects to preserve the site.
- Prison collection conservation: Throughout usage, there have been several prison collections, some by those who worked there, those who lived there, and the convicts themselves. The collections tell an entire story of human life and existence, that of a long history. There are approximately 12,000 objects classified as the Fremantle prison collection.
Care is taken to conserve these objects, some of the items in the prison’s collection are obtained through several means, transfers from museums, and other sources. The major source however of these objects is those left by the prisoners and staff after the prison was closed in 1991.
Another interesting collection conserved in the centre is the prison artworks, dominated by works of prisoners on boards, paper, etc. The artworks span several generations and the history is being preserved. The artworks are available for sightseeing based on scheduled requests.