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Powerhouse Wins Prestigious MAGNA Research Award

Digital visualisation of a pocket watch from the Powerhouse collectionJune 17, 2022

Neutron tomograph used on a pocket watch, France, c.1810. Powerhouse Collection. ANSTO 2021.
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The Powerhouse has been awarded a prestigious Museums and Galleries National Award for Research for The Invisible Revealed exhibition at a ceremony in Perth this morning. It was among 30 exhibitions nominated across five award categories, which spotlight the Australian cultural sector’s most creative and innovative cultural projects.     

The Invisible Revealed features collaborative investigations initiated through a unique research partnership between the Powerhouse and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). ANSTO’s world-class research facilities, featuring neutron instruments, synchrotron X-ray beams and particle accelerators, provided chemical, material and manufacturing insights into objects from the Powerhouse collection. These advanced nuclear and accelerator techniques are non-destructive, penetrating and sensitive for use on important cultural heritage objects. Combined with digital visualisation techniques, the exhibition showcases the discoveries made in attempting to solve the mysteries of society’s material culture, ranging from Samurai swords spanning the period 1346–1800, a Coptic textile fragment from Egypt (401-500 CE) and a Lydian State Coin (c. 505-500 BCE). 

The exhibition also includes detailed digital 3D models that provide an inner view of solid objects, an augmented reality experience and a digital reconstruction of a fragmented rug created using Artificial Intelligence, completed by the EPICentre at the University of New South Wales and engineered by Powerhouse Visiting Research Fellow Dr. Tomasz Bednarz.     

“The Powerhouse is honoured to have our research partnership with ANSTO acknowledged with this prestigious award. The non-destructive analytical processes applied in The Invisible Revealed will make a significant contribution to contemporary collection practices across conservation, research documentation,” said Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah.  

“The Powerhouse and ANSTO are pleased to accept this award for research excellence and for the recognition of the important role that nuclear and accelerator methods play in analysing cultural heritage and museum collections,” said Powerhouse Research Manager, Dr Deborah Lawler-Dormer. 

“ANSTO is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with the Powerhouse on this groundbreaking exhibition, and the application of non-destructive nuclear methods to answer long-standing questions on these museum objects. We are thrilled that the exhibition has been recognised with this award,” said Dr Joseph Bevitt, Senior Instrument Scientist at ANSTO, and Lead Scientist on The Invisible Revealed 

The Powerhouse was also shortlisted for the Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Award for the 100 Climate Conversations website. Australia’s most ambitious climate-focused cultural project features 100 conversations with 100 of the nation’s leading climate innovators delivered over 100 weeks. The website design mirrors the content that accumulates on physical screens in exhibition space weekly, engaging digital audiences through videos, transcripts and podcast episodes. 

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Cara Lopez, Communications Assistant / 0438 147 097 

Georgia McKay, Head of Communications & Engagement, Powerhouse / 0466 223 293