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Museum Experiment at Home: Create a Damp Micro-Environment (Results)

Here are sample results of “Museum Experiment at Home: Create a Damp Micro-Environment.”

Each of the “After” images below was taken three weeks after beginning of the experiment. Compare these images with your own results from the experiment!


No change visible, though longer exposure would have faded the bright colours.










Wood piece

This material absorbed water resulting in an increase in weight and a darker colour. Once out of the humid environment of the jar, the wood piece dried and became lighter, though the colour remained slightly darker overall.  

Wood piece—Before
Wood piece—After








Wood dowel

This material absorbed water at the end resting on the saturated cotton balls, resulting in a slight increase in weight. After 24 hours out of the humid environment, it dried and became lighter.

Wood dowel—Before
Wood dowel—After









Iron nail

This nail was deteriorating before it was used in this experiment, and the humid environment sped up this process. The nail wept on the shaft, forming small droplets of water covered in a thin layer of rust. This is an active form of corrosion, and there was some loss of material beneath where it had been in direct contact with the saltwater solution. White patches of corrosion also increased significantly. Salt increases the corrosion of metals such as copper alloys and iron.

Iron nail—Before
Iron nail—After










The image blurred significantly, and the colours changed and bled. The edges curled, and a rough granular texture developed over the surface.









This material changed to a darker colour as it absorbed salt water, which at first appeared speckled, and increased in weight. On removal from the jar environment, it dried and became lighter, but the surface is cracked and the leather is stiff, no longer pliable as before.










Unchanged, as expected!









Card stock

This heavy paper curled from moisture absorption and the texture became rough and bumpy. On removal the colour is still strong, but would fade visibly with prolonged sunlight exposure.

Card stock—Before
Card stock—After









Paper with marker, pencil, pen ink and washi tape:

The black marker bled a blue pigment; the grey faded significantly; red and yellow marker lines bled and lines faded significantly; and the blue faded and changed to a blue-black colour. The pencil and pen ink faded slightly, with the tape colour remaining strong. The tape curled along with the severely curled edges of the paper. As it absorbed water, the paper curled and the texture changed to a rough, bumpy surface on drying. There are spots of rusty red visible on one edge, absorbed from resting near the weeping and corroding iron nail. 

Paper marked with marker, pencil, pen and washi tape—Before
Paper marked with marker, pencil, pen and washi tape—After











Find the original instructions for this “Museum Experiment at Home: Create a Damp Micro-Environment” here.