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Workshop on climate control in museums

(Held in Stockholm 14-15 May 2014)


The recent relaxation of museum environmental standards enables savings in energy consumption and reduction in the complexity of air conditioning apparatus with consequent saving in maintenance cost.

This course explored how to maximise these savings. The scope for saving is very large indeed for museum storage, less so for exhibitions, where the standards for human comfort still enforce the use of air conditioning in busy exhibitions. It is quite feasible to reduce the energy used for storage by 90%. For exhibition spaces we are at an early stage in optimising energy use. Technical advances in light sources give considerable energy reduction which can tip the balance against full air conditioning in exhibition spaces. The climate can be moderated by the use of heat and humidity buffers which even out the daily load in spaces which are typically only occupied for about a third of the day.

This wiki index lists the order of topics presented at the course. On the first day we examined how the standards attempt to reconcile the environmental sensitivity of museum objects with wider limits for environmental variables. We then explained how museum architecture can adapt to make effective use of these less demanding environmental expectations.

On the second day a more specialised course concentrated on environmental measurements, whose interpretation becomes more demanding as we strive to minimise both energy use and damage to objects. We looked at measurement techniques, practical instruments for measurement and logging, calibration, data storage and finally analysis of environmental data.

The lecture sequence

1. Environmental susceptibilities of materials and how climate standards are built upon them.

2. Museum storage climate.

3. Temperature and humidity buffering by buildings and by materials.

4. Exhibition climate.

5. Lighting.

6. Air pollution

7. Climate for transport

Information for the data collection section is indexed near the bottom of the page: (opens in a new window or tab)

9. Sensor technology (temperature, RH, light, pollution, exchange rate, weather).

12. Data collection and storage of raw data.

13. Data storage, manipulation and analysis. : the Arnamagnaean archive as an example.

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