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Winterthur lab reopens after renovation

Jim Schneck, Winterthur

Winterthur Museum has reopened its Science Research and Analysis Laboratory. The lab closed over the summer for its first renovations since 1969.

Over the past four months, $450,000 dollars have gone towards updating the HVAC system, adding custom lab furniture and remapping the floor space to make it more functional.

It’s also now a fishbowl. Winterthur guests can observe scientists as they work to preserve the museum’s rare artifacts.

“I actually really love it,” said the lab’s head researcher Dr. Rosie Grayburn. “Yeah, it’s great to be able to interact with people on a very informal level and thankfully we haven’t had too many people knocking on the glass yet.”

Grayburn says a favorite project among visitors is the work she is doing to preserve pre-1825 mirrors made of a tin-mercury amalgam.

“What can happen over time is the mercury tin amalgam starts to deteriorate and separate back to its original components. So we’ve found a few of the mirrors that liquid mercury has been dripping from the mercury from the mirrors onto the museum floor,” said Grayburn.

Scientists use a non-destructive spectrometer to analyze mirrors in the museum and determine which ones are at risk of dripping.

The lab is one of only 18 museum laboratories in the country and Grayburn says it is one of the most well-equipped.

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