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Combating the dangers of humidity in museums and galleries

5 min read
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The effort that goes into preserving historical artefacts, priceless artworks and other unique collections is monumental. Especially in spaces open to the public, such as museums and galleries. However, this care and attention to detail can all be undone when the conditions inside a building are not maintained at optimum levels.

The effort that goes into preserving historical artefacts, priceless artworks and other unique collections is monumental. Especially in spaces open to the public, such as museums and galleries. However, this care and attention to detail can all be undone when the conditions inside a building are not maintained at optimum levels.

Whether they are in storage or on display, these treasured items are always at risk from fluctuating humidity levels. And, unsurprisingly, repairing any damage is usually expensive and complicated, or simply not possible at all.

How humidity is affecting your collection

Museums and galleries house items made from a huge variety of materials that all react in their own way to their environment.

In a dry atmosphere, some items will become brittle and less able to replenish their optimum moisture levels. Conversely, when there is too much moisture in the air, mould and mildew is likely to form, especially on natural materials such as leather.

The key to protecting your collections from humidity damage is to maintain a consistent relative humidity (RH) level throughout your building. However, many larger museums and galleries will need to implement dehumidification systems that create microclimates in certain areas of their building to optimise the conditions for the items displayed there. The infographic below shows the optimum RH% and temperature for some of the most common materials found in museums and galleries.


MATERIALS

RH%

T (°C)
Iron armours, weapons<4019 – 24

Bronze

<4519 – 24
Ivories, bones45 – 6019 – 24

Paper, papier-mache

50 – 6019 – 24
Anatomical collections40 – 6019 – 24
Mineralogical collections, marble, stone45 – 60<30
Cowhide, leather, parchment50 – 6019 – 24
Albums, magnetic tapes40 – 6010 – 24
Herbariums, botanical collections40 – 6019 – 24
Video tapes30 – 50-5 – 15
Photographs20 – 3002 – 20
Insects and entomological collections40 – 6019 – 24
Oriental lacquers 50 – 6019 – 24
Wood40 – 6519 – 24
Printed wood, polychrome45 – 6519 – 24
Paint on canvas45 – 6019 – 24
Paint on wood5 – 6019 – 24
Books, manuscripts45 – 5519 – 24


Related products

Dantherm CDF 40
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Wall-mounted/floor-standing dehumidifiers

The energy-efficient and quiet CDF range of powerful dehumidifiers is ideal for preserving and protecting your valuables from humidity damage.

Dantherm CDF 10
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Wall-mounted dehumidifiers

The CDF dehumidifier is ideal for protecting furnishings and equipment stored at low temperatures.

Dantherm Dan X AF
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High capacity swimming pool and commercial ducted dehumidifiers

The DanX AF is a very effective heat pump dehumidification system, which perfectly controls the humidity and indoor temperature while offering significant running cost reductions.

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