Historic Royal Palaces

Project provider name: Historic Royal Palaces

Where research placements take place: Hampton Court Palace

Website: http://www.hrp.org.uk

How many years have the Historic Royal Palaces offered placements to Nuffield Science Bursary students? 4 years

How is the scheme run within the Historic Royal Palaces?
Students work with a small team of scientists within the Conservation and Collection Care team. Projects focus on the science and technology used by conservators at Historic Royal Palaces to preserve the historic collection and decorative interiors for future generations. Students carry out supervised experimental research in our laboratory at Hampton Court Palace, addressing a specific and current conservation issue from one area of the valuable collection under our guardianship – from tapestries to sculpture, wall-paintings and armour! Previous students have studied the dyestuffs used by conservators to produce support fabrics for state beds, and storage methods for patent leather shoes. The research projects at Historic Royal Palaces particularly support elements of A-level Chemistry (including polymer science and colour theory), in addition to revealing an exciting and unusual workplace for a scientist!

What do you feel the main benefits of the scheme are?
The benefits of the scheme for us include working with young people who arrive with enthusiasm, an inquiring mind (and can often ask us unexpected questions!). Through meeting other placement providers, we have been able to make professional links with other organisations, even co-hosting a student with a local university.

Would you recommend the scheme to others?
I would recommend the scheme to others. It has been very rewarding to work with highly motivated and talented young people, and to be able to encourage them towards a career in science. Through the scheme, we have asked students to carry out important “real-life” pieces of work, under supervision, which have sometimes even resulted in published research.