© Soleil d'hiver à Lavacourt, 1879-1880, Musée d’art moderne André-Malraux, Le Havre.
Conservation teams preserve cultural objects and works of art for future generations. The collection environment is crucial in this context. Incorrect values and fluctuations of temperature and relative humidity can lead to biological, chemical, or mechanical degradation. Light and UV, through photochemical and thermal reactions, can cause colour fading and yellowing. To limit object deterioration, conservation teams thus need to ensure a correct and stable environment.
Loans are an integral part of the intent to make collections accessible to the widest possible audience. As a lender, you want to have guarantees - you impose threshold levels to temperature, relative humidity, light, and you require regular reports. As a borrower, you want to be a trusted partner - you respect the agreed levels and regularly report back.
Yet, though technically feasible in fit-for-purpose buildings with modern climate systems, these levels take little account of historic buildings, actual collection needs, visitor needs, or the energy use that results from it. The calls for easing them are multiplying, internationally. Museums, libraries, and storage facilities must now carefully balance the need to reduce energy consumption with the need to maintain an appropriate collection environment.
Our regular exchanges with conservators have revealed a number of factors that make environmental monitoring a challenging task for museums and libraries.
Staff members devote days manually reading out loggers, exporting data using proprietary data logger software, calibrating sensors, replacing batteries, and configuring gateways. In order to analyse these data, they need to safely store and maintain them.
Visualising and exploring data requires working them in spreadsheets or other software and creating charts. To trace back anomalies, notes have to be easy to file, to read and to interpret. The reality for conservation professionals is often far from ideal. Without integrated data flow, it is strenuous to analyse the data and compare it to norms, guidelines, and contractual agreements.
Sharing data, notes and insights with colleagues and management is essential. Also for loans, we need to share legible reports. The interplay between the building, the collection and the climate system complicates climate management. Moreover, to paint a full picture and decide on a plan of action the whole conservation team needs to be on board.
Without concise data or insights, it is hard to evaluate whether actions you take benefit your preseventive conservation efforts or not. Moreover, if anything unexpected happens, chances are you won't know until the harm is already done. That's why it's crucial to have, at all times, a detailed view of your collection environment.
Our mission is to enable conservation teams to understand and improve their collection environment based on concise data and insights.
Every institution, building, or exhibition presents their very own challenges when implementing energy-conscious preventive conservation. There is no one-size-fits-all action plan.
Conserving cultural objects and saving energy is not impossible but a delicate balancing act. Use our solutions and take the tightrope walk with confidence.Read more about our solutions