The Invisible Revealed at Powerhouse Museum

Fri 26th November, 2021 – Sun 22nd May, 2022
Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007
Pop the hood on the Powerhouse collection at this collaborative exhibition driven by groundbreaking technology.

Plenty of exhibitions promise a ‘deep dive’ into objects in a collection, but do they ever really commit to revealing minute details from the atomic to microscopic-level composition of those objects? (Didn’t think so.) A new exhibition at Ultimo’s Powerhouse Museum is promising just that.

If X-ray specs existed outside the Superman universe, the result might look like The Invisible Revealed. In this six-month exhibition opening on Friday 26 November, the Powerhouse has teamed up with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to present a selection of artefacts from the Powerhouse collection like you’ve never seen them before – literally.

Using a combination of its state-of-the-art nuclear reactor, synchrotron (a machine that accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light) and other particle accelerator-based technologies, ANSTO’s imaging and analytical capabilities show how culturally significant artefacts were manufactured, and how they might be better conserved for decades and centuries to come. Collaborative studies have been completed on items including four Samurai swords spanning the period 987-1830; a Chinese Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BCE) bronze wine vessel; and the world’s first handheld calculator, the Curta.

The artefacts appear alongside 3D visualisations and other imagery that reveals objects’ structural secrets, giving visitors a look into the organisation’s scientific and technical achievements.

Detailed 3D visualisations of the Museum’s artefacts are produced by passing an intense, non-destructive beam of neutrons (subatomic particles found in almost all atoms) – produced by ANSTO’s OPAL nuclear reactor located in Sydney – or X-rays –produced by the Australian Synchrotron, Australia’s largest particle accelerator and brightest light source in the Southern Hemisphere located in Melbourne – through the artefacts.

Running until late May 2022, The Invisible Revealed is a rare look into the lives of objects and a celebration of Australian scientific achievement.

More details. Entry is free.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Powerhouse Museum.