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Conservation research

What is conservation research?

Scientific research is a core activity at Historic Royal Palaces. Our team of scientists and technicians draws expertise from a wide range of technical areas including material science, environmental sciences, digital technologies, and engineering. We answer important questions on how our palaces and our collection were made, what changes they have experienced through their long lifetime and importantly, develop advanced applications for their conservation and sustainable future. Our research is highly collaborative, and our scientists work with colleagues such as conservators, curators and surveyors.

How do we conduct the research?

The Science Team is based at Hampton Court Palace and provides technical support and advice for all six palaces. Our laboratory was founded 35 years ago and has established a distinguished reputation in the field of heritage science and conservation research. We are committed to become a charity for everyone, facilitating collaboration and access. Our scientific work enables excellent research through external academic, heritage and industry partnerships on innovative projects.

In 2021, we received an investment of nearly £1 million pounds from the Arts & Humanities Research Council Capability for Collections Fund. We were able to upgrade our equipment and expand our research with a state-of-the-art laboratory for the and analysis of heritage assets, as well as specialist equipment for environmental monitoring and material testing.

We support the next generation of heritage scientists with training opportunities including offering a scholarship, in partnership with University College London Institute for Sustainable Heritage (ISH). We share our research to specialist groups at conference presentations and in academic papers. This is shared more widely at public talks, conducting laboratory visits, at our palaces and online.

Watch Smart Tech and the Tapestries

Watch this film about how Smart Tint windows were installed in the Great Watching Chamber to help protect the 16th-century tapestries. 

Follow along with an interactive transcript of Smart Tint windows at Hampton Court Palace on YouTube. A link to open the transcript can be found in the description. 

Byward Angel at the Tower of London

Discover the medieval Byward Angel on Google Arts and Culture.