Curie Point Interactive Museum Exhibit

When the Museum of Science and Industry asked us to develop a new Interactive Museum Exhibit in the Science Storms gallery we jumped at the opportunity!

First and foremost, the concept they wanted to teach in this interactive museum exhibit was how heating metal affects their magnetic properties.

Sounds simple enough.

So, heat a piece of metal to almost 700°F in a few seconds, allow it to cool and make that repeatable hundreds of times a day 360 days a year for 30 years.

Curie Point interactive museum exhibit

What is a Curie Point?

Named after Pierre Curie— husband of Nobel Prize winning physicist Marie Curie, the Curie Temperature (TC), or Curie Point, is the temperature at which certain materials lose their magnetic properties.

  • A permanent magnet has  dipoles (North & South) that are aligned.
  • The atoms of ferromagnetic metal are also aligned and act like tiny magnets below their Curie point.
  • When the ferromagnetic metal is heated it causes the atoms to vibrate and lose their dipole alignment.
  • When the metal cools the atoms realign and the metal regains its magnetism.

How does it work?

  • Nickel is a naturally occurring ferromagnet with a reasonably low Curie point.
  • At room temperature the nickel and the magnet are attracted to each other.
  • Heating the nickel tube allows the pendulum swing away.
  • Finally, cooling the tube allows it to be magnetically attractive again.


Safety is always a major concern when dealing with high voltage and extreme heat.
The exhibit features multiple fail-safes for voltage, temperature and pendulum position.
Basically, this is what a very complicated on / off switch looks like when opened up.

Curie Point interactive museum display detail

How did we make this interactive museum display?

1.

Firstly, machined aluminum housings with ceramic bushings hold the custom manufactured seamless nickel tubing and conceal an industrial grade induction heater.

Curie Point interactive museum exhibit design

2.

A highly customized infrared camera and software package senses temperature and pendulum position. Industrial process controls monitor the entire event in real time to ensure safety and repeatability. In 2015, the Museum of Science and Industry saw 1.5 million visitors. An interactive museum display needs to be built to last!

Curie Point interactive museum design by Bridgewater Studio

3.

The interior of the case for the interactive museum display is very clean, simple and boiled down to show off the science. When it comes to interactive museum exhibits, Bridgewater produces the most finely crafted display enclosures and cases.

interactive museum exhibit for Science Storms Gallery

4.

Finally, we engraved the Corian counter; resin-filled the text and accented it with LED backlighting. This resin is self-leveling, so it flattens itself out across the surface evenly. Bridgewater Studio sets up a special particle-free environment to prevent dust and foreign particulates from infiltrating the resin as it cures. Sometimes we’ll even hit the surface with with a blowtorch, like brazing a Crème Brûlée, to prevent any air bubbles from getting trapped in the material.

Curie Point interactive museum exhibit Museum of Science and Industry

We love a challenge and this project definitely fit the bill.

Ultimately, we hope visitors enjoy learning as much about magnetism with this Interactive Museum Exhibit as we did fabricating it. If you’re interested, please check out some of our other unique fabrication projects.

Curie Point interactive museum exhibit

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