Risk Management > Environment

Definiton

"The environment (temperature, relative humidity, air quality and light levels) in the exhibition galleries and storage areas has a very important effect on the long term preservation of objects in museum collections. Many organic (and also some inorganic) materials are quite sensitive to light - both in the ultraviolet and visible ranges - and will suffer degradation from photochemical reactions. For example, the colors of many textile dyestuffs, as well as paint pigments, will fade and change as a result of such effects. Air pollutants will also cause chemical changes in sensitive materials.We can prevent and minimize many of these effects by keeping the storage areas dark, exhibit light levels carefully controlled, and the air in all collection areas clean....

"What we need to know, in order to design and maintain efficient and cost effective climate control systems, is what the allowable limits are within we must maintain the museum environment to prevent damage to occur. SCMRE researchers have focused on these questions, and developed a far better quantitative understanding of the issues than existed previously. Using an extensive database of mechanical properties of materials (strength, elasticity, etc.), measured under various conditions and as affected by aging processes, in combination with sophisticated computer-based models, they are able to define environmental "envelopes" that represent the optimal conditions in which to safely preserve the collections in museums nationwide.""

Collection Environment, Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education

Resources

Ch. 4: Museum Collections Environment (download PDF format file), Part I, Museum Collections, Museum Handbook, Museum Management Program, National Park Service.

Kerschner, Richard L. and Jennifer Baker. Practical Climate Control: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography, JIAC

Dewpoint Calculator, Wolfgang Kühn. This small JavaScript application computes the dewpoint and frostpoint temperature at a given ambient temperature and given ambient relative humidity.

   © 2002-03 Philip C. Marshall and Preservation Society of Newport County