The analysis of structural data obtained by X-ray crystallography benefits from information obtained from complementary techniques, especially as applied to the crystals themselves. As a consequence, optical spectroscopies in structural biology have become instrumental in assessing the relevance and context of many crystallographic results. Since the year 2000, it has been possible to record such data adjacent to, or directly on, the Structural Biology Group beamlines of the ESRF. A core laboratory featuring various spectrometers, named the Cryobench, is now in its third version and houses portable devices that can be directly mounted on beamlines. This paper reports the current status of the Cryobench, which is now located on the MAD beamline ID29 and is thus called the ID29S-Cryobench (where S stands for `spectroscopy'). It also reviews the diverse experiments that can be performed at the Cryobench, highlighting the various scientific questions that can be addressed.
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