Crystals – Artwork of Nature

krist_alignA touring exhibition through Austria
in the „International Year of Crystallography“ 2014

(Report by Dr. Robert Krickl)

Click here to download the report in PDF format 


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 University of Innsbruck and PANalytical B.V. Branch Austria, organisation and execution were to the author of this report, a crystallographer and science communicator.

2logos_thumb  BM_WFW_Logo_small  Oemg  uni_ibk  PANalytical_logo


Novel models, photographs and computer graphics were used to illustrate the internal structure of crystals, their physical appearance and properties. For effective communication, specially developed experiments, visualisations, activity stations and a lot of hands-on material were employed. Some impressions are provided by Fig.1. 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, respondence to individual questions, adaptive adjustment to the situation – so ultimatively „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

Information and photos were published at

Krickl_fig1a Krickl_fig1b Krickl_fig1c
Fig.1: Some impressions of the exhibition with examples of graphics, models, experiments and demonstration. Click on the images to see larger versions.

The tour

Because of the assumedly 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 – VIENNA
21.05. - 18.07.2014 – Federal Library, St. Poelten – LOWER AUSTRIA
18.-26.09.2014 – Town Hall, Leoben – STYRIA
22.09.2014 – Birthpace 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 – 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



  • 9 federal states of Austria visited (i.e. all)
  • 13 cities visited by the touring exhibition
  • 224 school classes which received an interactive guided tour
  • 442 hours of personally guided tours
  • ~15.000 visitors reached in personal contact (conservative estimate)

International visits:

Some tour stations were located right at the national borders of Austria (Arnfels: Slovenia; Schattendorf: Hungary; Kittsee: Slovakia; Bregenz: Germany). There was 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.

Echo and impact:

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. As indicators of the impact cf. some evaluation of the reports on the official website of IYCr in Fig.2 and 3.

Fig.2: Number of activities on the occasion of IYCr entered in the „events by country“ section of IYCr-homepage (counted in January 2015). Click on the image to see a larger version. Fig.3: Entries of national activities on the occasion of IYCr (cf. Fig.2) broken down to responsible persons (only first five ranks shown; Austrians marked with red colour). Click on the image to see a larger version.


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. These will be briefly outlined in separate reports. Finally, there are still some ongoing major outreach activities, such as the construction of the largest crystal structure model of the world (registered with Guinness Book of Records). It will be used for science communication in public space in November 2015 to honour the 100th anniversary of the Braggs’ Nobel Prize ( 

Dr Robert Krickl