Mobile Heritage Lab
The Mobile Heritage Lab was a unique research and public engagement vehicle. It was a joint venture of University College London, the University of Oxford and the University of Brighton, and funded by EPSRC.
The Lab was available to any organisation to use for research and public engagement projects including schools. The purpose of the ‘Lab-on-Wheels’ was to make Heritage Science as accessible as possible, bringing the innovative science developed by SEAHA students to the places where it was most needed.
Users of the Mobile Heritage Lab had access to scientific equipment from leading laboratories that participate in SEAHA including UCL, Oxford and Brighton. The equipment covered different areas of heritage science interest, such as environmental monitoring, imaging and chemical analysis. See a full list below and for further enquires contact the lab manager Josep Grau-Bove.
- Air Particle Counter (Gradko International - DC1100 and DC1700)
- Digital Microscope (Keyence-VHX 5000)
- Environmental loggers
- Hot Wire Anemometer
- Infrared Reflectography Camera
- Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera
- Mobile Light Spectrometer
- Near Infrared Spectrometer
- Optical Profilometer - Surface Roughness Scanner
- pH Meter
- Portable Mass Spectrometer
- SO2/NOx/O3 Loggers and Meters
- Spectrodensiometer colorimeter X-RITE
- Ultrafine Particle Counter
- Universal Air Sampling Pump
- USB 400x Digital Microscope
- UV Lamp
- UV Torch
- UV-VIS and Near Infrared Spectrometer
- VOC (volatile organic compounds) Handheld Sensor
- UVA/B Light Meter
Where we've been
The Lab visited museums, schools, science festivals, and conferences; wherever greater access to heritage science was needed or where the public can interact with heritage science. SEAHA students often accompanied our visits to engage with users. Among other places, we've visited:
- British Science Festival
- Cheltenham Science Festival
- Wilberforce Primary School
- Hampton Court
- National Museum Wales, Cardiff
- ICON Conference, Belfast
Visits to schools
For schools we designed an 'art-detectives' activity, allowing primary-school aged children to identify a portrait; was it an original repaired by an art restorer or perhaps the work of forgers? We demonstrated how we can apply science to provide evidence in questionable cases. Pupils used a UV torch, thermal imaging camera, and optical microscope to identify hidden writing, fingerprints, and even analysed some stray threads carelessly snagged on the painting from the artist’s clothing. We also encouraged students to consider the monetary and cultural value of heritage by asking what to do with a forged painting?
“It was amazing! Inside the lab we tested material but my favourite bit was when we used the UV lighting to check whether the painting had any hidden names or secrets on it.” Audrey, Year 3, Wilberforce Primary School
“It was so cool – literally! We got to use a thermal imaging camera and see how it uses heat, or not.” Raima, Year 5, Wilberforce Primary School
“The lab was absolutely brilliant in terms of ease of use and adaptability for incorporating kit. We used some of the kit already in there and added in some of our own. The event was a huge success and certainly showed a new side of the Mary Rose museum to a number of our visitors. In addition, it was a great opportunity for the PhD students to interact with our team and for the staff to learn more about all the science research going on
Dr Eleanor Schofield, Head of Conservation & Collections Care, Mary Rose Museum
“The level of interest you generated from our visitors was very high...You helped to attract visitors of all ages from all walks of life: children and young people were really impressed with being able to touch and use the instruments...we would really like to have you back virtually every weekend.
Gillian Duckworth, Communication & Engagement Officer, The Vyne, National Trust
“[The visit] helped us answer some important questions affecting the care of our collections, for example on the effectiveness of the museum’s air filtration system, on the concentrations of VOCs in collection stores, and cryptic sources of heat to some wall-mounted display cases...The Mobile Heritage Lab provided an important platform for investigating some collection care problems, providing public outreach and even internal stakeholder advocacy.