Exhibition at Leeds museum has the X-ray factor

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A new exhibition at the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds has an artistic value that’s clear for all to see.

The exhibition features a dozen large-scale X-ray images of items from the museum’s collection of arms and armour.

Objects given a fresh visual identity include a Japanese facemask dating from the 16th century and a modern-day Taser.

The pictures on display are blown-up versions of the kind of X-rays that are regularly used by Royal Armouries experts to unearth the fascinating stories behind pieces in their care.

Suzanne Dalewicz-Kitto, conservation manager at the museum, said: “The value of X-ray images of items which may be delicate, complex and precious is that it is a non-invasive way of uncovering information about those objects.

“The image can safely reveal decoration that has worn away and repairs that have been completed so well that they have become invisible to the naked eye.

“These images provide new information about the construction of the item and its internal mechanisms without taking it apart.”

The level of detail shown up in an X-ray can also help the museum identify forgeries.

One of the items pictured in the exhibition is a mace that was revealed as a 19th century fake through markings on its handle which indicated it was originally a gun barrel.

X-rays were also used in tests which pinpointed a supposed 17th century helmet as a possible fake because it was made of metal that was insufficiently tough to offer proper head protection.

The Royal Armouries is home to a number of confirmed forgeries as they are regarded as interesting historic artefacts in their own right.

Running until October 30, the new exhibition is called The Unseen Collection.

It is part of the museum’s Inspired By project, which displays different types of artwork based on its world-renowned array of objects.

For further information, visit the www.royalarmouries.org website or ring 0113 220 1999.