SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training


The Mobile Heritage Lab proves a big hit at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2016

23 June 2016


The SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab (MHL) team was delighted to attend the Cheltenham Science Festival which took place 9-12 June 2016. During the four days of festival 9 SEAHA students engaged with more than 500 visitors who entered the mobile lab and participated in heritage science experiments. Popular attractions on display in the Mobile Heritage Lab included the opportunity to inspect samples of historic tapestries, provided by Hampton Court (Historic Royal Palaces) and “Thermies” (Thermal camera selfies), which the groups of schoolchildren found fascinating!

The activities were extraordinarily well received and got numerous visitors a day following word of mouth referrals from other festival attendees who were excited to see “the tapestries and the fake painting”. In fact, the painting was a portrait created by SEAHA students in order to demonstrate the techniques used to study paint layers and underdrawings.

1st year SEAHA student Mark Kearney, one of the 9 SEAHA students who attended the event, said:

“Participating in the Cheltenham Science Festival as part of SEAHA was a fantastic experience to gain in my first year of study. There are few public engagement events where this could have taken place; being able to explain, to both children and adults, the role heritage science plays in the larger heritage industry was quite rewarding. It was fascinating to engage with the kids and teach them more about the practical applications of the science they learn in school. Furthermore, it was very positive to hear direct feedback from adults who found the topic both interesting and of real importance for our heritage fabric.”

Dr Josep Grau-Bove, MHL Coordinator and Assistant Course Director for the MRes SEAHA programme at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, said:

“The most satisfying aspect of participating at the Cheltenham Festival was seeing heritage science presented alongside other, more established, scientific fields. Many visitors were surprised, even pleased, that such an application of science existed”.