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MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES


Salter’s Hall, courtesy DMFK/Jack Hobhouse. Looking after the


nation’s treasures Nigel Manning, managing director of Heronhill talks about some of the projects the company has been involved with.


M


aintaining a conditioned environment is critical to preserve the nation’s treasures in museums and galleries. While 40%-60% RH is normally the optimum humidity for furniture and paintings in property such as National Trust stately homes, other artefacts stored in archives need more extreme conditions. This can be as low as 20%-30% RH (film, for example) although some items benefit from being stored at 50%-60% RH. Books and documents can be severely damaged by not being kept at the correct temperature and


52 November 2017


relative humidity. The breakdown of cellulose in paper and other decay reactions constitute chemical damage.


The rate of these reactions is affected by temperature and humidity levels and the speed of decay can be accelerated by warm and damp conditions. The problems experienced by not maintaining a stable environment can include mould, deterioration and warping.


Temperature levels While 16°C to 20°C is normally the recommended


temperature for items stored in museums, moderately fluctuating temperatures between 10°C and 20°C is unlikely to adversely affect museum items.


Rooms below 16°C become too uncomfortable for visitors, while anything below 10°C can cause condensation and affect relative humidity. However, temperatures above 20°C will be too hot for visitors and can accelerate degradation in museum objects.


Storage areas in museums can be cooler than 16°C as they are not frequented by visitors but the items will need to acclimatise gradually between storage and display


At Heronhill, we are proud to have been involved with many prestigious projects. Working closely with both consultants and contractors, we identify the specific conditions required by the museum or gallery and select the most appropriate system to meet the client’s needs.


Fort Cumberland


Fort Cumberland is a pentagonal artillery fortification erected to guard the entrance to Langstone Harbour, east of Portsmouth dockyard. It is widely recognised as the finest example of a bastion trace fort in England and houses the Royal Navy archives.


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