During Science week the Polar Museum joined in with Conservation Conversations, a drop-in event at the Fitzwilliam Museum where the public are invited to pull up a chair and meet an object. Conservators from lots of the University museums set up a sort of farmers market of stalls, showing objects and projects relating to the Science Week theme of Light.
Light is an important part of life at the Poles – for half the year there isn’t any, and then for the other half there is rather too much! Sunburn of the retina, often known as “snow blindness”, can be a real problem for people living at the poles, and that is why goggles are so important. We took along a selection of goggles for the public to look at close up:
These include a pair that were worn by Scott on the Discovery expedition, a pair made from caribou antler, a couple of weird prototypes, a pair that were modified to improve them but were actually ruined, a pair that looked great but were utterly useless in protecting the eyes and a pair with a special detachable lens for seeing tracer fire in very bright conditions. Can you tell which is which?
We set up our stall in the glamorous surroundings of the Fitzwilliam. Here is Christina talking about Inuit goggles under the watchful eye of Elizabeth I in the background:
People enjoy seeing the objects close up, without glass in the way, and there are often all kinds of great stories to go with the objects which you couldn’t fit onto a museum label. But also the public have their own interesting stories and ideas that are connected somehow with the objects, so you can have lots of fascinating conversations. It is definitely a really enjoyable event to do.
Conservation Conversations happens regularly at the Science Festival, so look out for it next time.