16 May 2005

Guidelines for Environmental Control of Cultural Institutions (2002)

Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions has been developed by the Heritage Collections Council. The guide will assist you to develop appropriate environmental strategies to optimise the preservation of cultural objects while in storage and on display.

The conservation of objects relies, above all, on the environment in which they are stored and displayed. In the conventional wisdom of museum climatology, optimal environments for the preservation of materials and artefacts are specified as very narrow ranges of conditions, especially for temperature and relative humidity.

Achieving appropriate environmental conditions in museums and other repository buildings is a specialised architectural task, which is often not well understood by either the heritage conservation or architecture professions. As the large majority of the world's museums do not have full air-conditioning systems, there is an obvious need to concentrate on their needs with respect to climate control.

The following Guidelines emphasise the analysis of local climate conditions and appropriate building strategies, which might minimise the reliance on full airconditioning. Even where air-conditioning might be employed, minimising external loads, and appropriate operation of the building in response to the local climate, may have significant benefits in reducing energy costs, and the incidence of catastrophic failure of the environmental control systems.

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