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Another chance to x-ray your toys

24 August 2010 by Sam

visitors looking at x-ray images on a computer screen

If like me you are curious about what’s inside your treasured posessions and how they work – but not curious enough to break them in order to find out – then you need to go to the X-Ray your toys session at the National Conservation Centre tomorrow afternoon.

I popped along to the last session with my trusty Rubik’s cube, which conservator David Crombie x-rayed from a couple of different angles in order to reveal the clever way that the pieces are held together but can still be moved round into all sorts of colourful combinations.

While I was there lots of other visitors brought toys, watches, games and even a couple of shoes into the lab to be x-rayed. You can see what these objects look like inside and out in our X-rayed toys set on Flickr. The set also includes photos showing the x-ray machine itself, the digital x-ray plate that stores changes in energy from the x-ray process, and the reader that uses a laser to convert these changes in energy into a digital image.

Of course David and the other conservators don’t just use this equipment to examine toys, as it all serves a serious purpose in their work at National Museums Liverpool. X-ray images are just one of the methods that conservators use to examine objects in the collection without damaging them. A good example is this painting of ‘St Michael and the Dragon’ from the Lady Lever Art Gallery. An x-ray of the painting revealed lots of information about the panel it was painted on, including an unexpected former use.

So what secrets lie beneath the surface of your toys? Bring them to the lab tomorrow to find out.

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