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End of an Era . . . and the Start of Something New

22 December 2010 by Eleanor

Last Friday was a sad day at the National Conservation Centre as the doors closed to visitors for the last time.  However, yesterday brought with it a silver lining, as we relocated our conservation themed event ‘Crystal Magic’ over to the Clore Natural History Centre at World Museum.

The event was buzzing and despite the icy conditions outside, over seventy people attended the afternoon event.  ‘Salty’ our magical crystal growing snowman stole the show, as he busied away growing snow-like crystals.  He even let us borrow a few to look at more closely.  With our video microscope having also made the transition from the National Conservation Centre over to World Museum, we were able to examine crystals up close and discovered all kinds of beautiful colours, shapes and patterns.

For those who have already had their fill of snow crystals over the past few days, we also looked at how crystals might grow in our collections!  It was revealed that although crystals may look very beautiful and harmless they can be a menace for conservators.  You may ask why?  Well, crystals can in fact grow from soluble salts inside some objects such as ceramics and sculpture.  When these salts crystallize inside the object they expand causing serious stress and damage. 

So, ‘Crystal Magic’ marked the start of a new era, as the National Conservation Centre spread its wings for the first time, to begin conservation-themed events at other venues.  Although the big blue doors at the National Conservation Centre may now be closed to visitors, the dedicated work of the Centre’s conservators continues inside.  Keep your eyes open for new conservation themed events in the New Year on our Events pages.  You can also keep up-to-date with what’s going on behind-the-scenes via the blog, with more in-depth features and information on our Opinions Service available on our website. 

Snowman Crystals

Some crystals from ‘Salty’ our magical crystal-growing snowman, when examined using cross-polarised light microscopy.

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