IYCr Legacy
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Crystals - Artwork of Nature: a Touring Exhibition through Austria in IYCr2014

[Robert Krickl]

On the occasion of the International Year of Crystallography (IYCr), proclaimed by United Nations (UN) for 2014, a touring exhibition through Austria was organised. Visiting all federal states, its aim was to disseminate knowledge of this science and show the relevance for our daily lives, for research and economy. Supported by the Austrian Ministry of Science, the Austrian Mineralogical Society, the Faculty of Geo- and Atmospheric Sciences of the U. of Innsbruck and PANalytical B.V. Austria, the touring exhibition was organised and executed by the author of this report, a crystallographer and science communicator.


[Exhibition] Some impressions of the exhibition with examples of graphics, models, experiments and demonstration material.
[Schools 1]
[Schools 2]
[Schools 3] Some visiting school classes.

Novel models, photographs and computer graphics were used to illustrate the internal structure of crystals and their physical appearance and properties. For effective communication, specially developed experiments, visualisations, activity stations and a lot of hands-on material were employed. The content was adapted to regional and seasonal conditions at the respective sites. Primarily, the exhibition was visited in the course of interactive tours provided by the author, thus achieving a maximum degree of personal care and support, response to individual questions and adaptive adjustment to the situation - so ultimately 'reaching' people. Via an, at first glance, aesthetic access (for this reason, the title 'Crystals - Artwork of Nature' was chosen), knowledge of the following core contents was effectively imparted to the visitors:

  • basic knowledge of crystallography, geo- and material sciences
  • relevance to our daily lives
  • related education, economy and research.

The Tour

Because of the assumed high communication potential concerning IYCr in cities with universities and major museums, it was a declared aim of the project to visit places and regions with no related local infrastructure. The tour stops are summarised below:

  • 04.04.2014 - Long Night of Research, Vienna
  • 21.05. - 18.07.2014 - Federal Library, St. Poelten, Lower Austria
  • 18.-26.09.2014 - Town Hall, Leoben, Styria
  • 22.09.2014 - Birthplace of crystallographer Felix Machatschki, Arnfels, Styria
  • 30.09.2014 - Nature Museum Salzkammergut, Ebensee, Upper Austria
  • 01.-03.10.2014 - Town Hall, Gmunden, Upper Austria
  • 04.10.2014 - Long Night of Museums, Vienna
  • 04.-05.10.2014 - Mineral fair 'Mineralium', Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna
  • 07.-10.10.2014 - Vinatrium, Deutschkreutz, Burgenland
  • 22.-25.10.2014 - Town Hall, Schattendorf, Burgenland
  • 04.-07.11.2014 - Carinthian College of Education, Klagenfurt, Carinthia
  • 08.11.2014 - Annual Meeting 'Min&Geo' of the Carinthian Society of Natural Sciences, PHK Viktor-Frankl-Hochschule, Carinthia
  • 14.-17.11.2014 - Museum Fronfeste, Neumarkt am Wallersee, Salzburg
  • 20.-23.11.2014 - Scholar Center, Frauenkirchen, Burgenland
  • 28.-30.11.2014 - Forum, Rum, Tyrol
  • 11.-14.12.2014 - Castle, Kittsee, Burgenland
  • 17.-18.12.2014 - Elementary School Bregenz Schendlingen, Vorarlberg

In conclusion, all 9 federal states of Austria and 13 cities were visited by the touring exhibition. A total of 224 school classes received an interactive guided tour, there were 442 hours of personally guided tours and approximately 15,000 visitors reached in personal contact (conservative estimate). Some tour stations were located right at the national borders of Austria (Arnfels: Slovenia, Schattendorf: Hungary, Kittsee: Slovakia, Bregenz: Germany). There were a good number of visitors from abroad who were served with multilingual tours. The message of IYCr was therefore also carried to other nations, especially in the often neglected border regions. The interest among the population was very high and the touring exhibition very well visited. The coverage in radio, print and online media was very satisfactory. Most prominent events were reported to IYCr headquarters with positive feedback.

In addition to the touring exhibition, the author conducted numerous other activities in Austria to bring crystallography closer to the public. These include school and kindergarden projects, public talks, philatelic contribution, other exhibitions and outreach activities. More information and photos can be seen at www.r-krickl.com/kristalle.

Finally, there are still some ongoing major outreach activities, such as the construction of the world's largest crystal structure model (registered with Guinness Book of Records). It will be used for science communication in public spaces in November 2015 to honor the 100th anniversary of the Braggs' Nobel Prize (http://worldrecord.r-krickl.com/en/) (see below).

Robert Krickl
[World record]