With kind permission by the Dean and Synod of the York Münster.

With kind permission by the Dean and Synod of the York Münster.

Did You Know…

... that Microscopes Can Save Our World Heritage Sites?


The picturesque northern English town of York is home to the famous Minster, one of Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals. York Minster was completed in 1472 after a construction period lasting 250 years and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its large number of artistically designed stained glass windows, this house of prayer is one of the region’s tourist magnets. One highlight is the large east window (23 x 10 meters), which depicts the history of all creation from beginning to end.

Now, after the window has defied six centuries of wind, weather and other adversities, restoration workshop York Glaziers Trust is rising to the challenge of thoroughly restoring it. This task involves taking apart each one of the more than 300 panels to permit cleaning and restoration of the surfaces of each individual section. Dr. Sarah Brown, Director of York Glaziers Trust, explains: “Examining and documenting every glass panel prior to the actual restoration process requires a microscope with ample room for the samples. "The two Stemi DV4 Spot microscopes newly purchased from ZEISS have proven indispensable. They can be very easily and precisely adjusted along the large surfaces of the brittle glass elements.” In addition, an AxioCam is also being used to document the damage.

While looking through the microscope, the restorers clean the delicate stained class without damaging the fine protective gel coating on the substrate glass or the sensitive layers of color. If necessary, the glass pieces are then carefully restored. The work is expected to be completed in 2016. Microscopy will then have made yet another valuable contribution to the preservation of our cultural heritage.

2 May 2012

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