Shrinking wood, expanding iron

28 October 2014 to 25 January 2015

An exhibition about the KUR project "Mass discoveries in archaeological collections"

Anyone who has always been interested in archaeology and wonders why the collections contain so little wood, or how centuries-old iron can be returned to its splendent lustre, is cordially invited to this special exhibition.

Archaeological wood and iron are especially difficult to preserve: Although they sometimes last for millennia in the ground, they often begin to deteriorate immediately after their recovery. Wood shrinks and breaks if it is dried in an uncontrolled manner; iron shatters almost in slow motion due to the voluminous corrosion that begins in its interior.

This problem has been studied as part of the KUR research programme, a programme for the conservation and restoration of moveable cultural assets. The exhibition “shrinking wood, expanding iron” taken on by the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven introduces the problems surrounding the archaeological materials of wood and iron, as well as the various approaches to solutions discussed in the project for the first time in a manner comprehensible to laypeople.