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April 6, 2021
March 2021 a new visitor center opened in Saint Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. Aside from its main attraction, the Ghent Altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb), many other art treasures are exhibited. In this blog we dive a little deeper into the monitoring solution we provided to monitor climate and light in the Ghent Altarpiece's showcase.
Climate and light monitoring inside the showcase. © Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent, www.artinflanders.be, foto Cedric Verhelst
You will find it in the most eastern chapel of the Cathedral. In winter, temperatures in the unheated cathedral can drop to 2°C. At times, the chapel baths in sunlight entering through the large stained glass windows. These are not your usual museum conditions. Nonetheless, the final design managed to strike a wonderful balance between visitor comfort, strict climate demands, the object, the religious context and the architecture.
Using CHARP Art Care software, the conservation team, involved engineers and members of the Flemish masterpieces council closely monitor climate and light levels in the showcase. Values and rates of change of temperature, relative humidity and light are continuously checked against imposed thresholds. When thresholds are exceeded, conservation team members are alerted via mail and sms. They can then take timely mitigating actions. A third-party control room serves to enforce these actions if needed.
Showcase (left) and technical room (right). Sensor cables connect sensors mounted in the showcase with the control box in the technical room. There, data is sent to secure CHARP Art Care servers for further processing.
We mounted our sensors behind the altarpiece, at the middle height between bottom and top panels. All active electronic components (communication devices, ethernet gateway, amplifiers) are collected outside the showcase itself, in a tailor-made control box located in a technical room at the back of the cathedral. M12 and coaxial sensor cables connect the sensors with the control box. Sensors are connected using industry standard connectors such that every year they can easily be exchanged with calibrated copies.
Sensors mounted behind altarpiece.
Control box in technical room.