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Measures to protect artifacts from harmful environment

Author:    Time:August-02-2021 09:39    Reading volume:390

According to latest research, harmful environment exerts most threats over artifact conservation. Storage environment should be the prior concern of museologists. Creating favorable environment for artifacts would be the foundation of conservation.

Influential environment factors include humidity, temperature, air quality and light exposure. Improper environment may cause irrevocable damage to the artifacts. We will discuss in this article on countermeasures to harmfully environment in relics conservation.

I. Humidity Control

Some organic relics are highly sensitive to humidity, such as wood ware and fabrics. Extreme dampness may result in swelling and moulding, while dryness may cause cracking and disformation. Recommended humidity range for relic conservation is 45%-65%, allow for a variation of 0-5%. Humidity control solutions should be customized according to local climate. For instance, in South China where is rainy and damp, dehumidifying function will be stressed. While in North China where is cold and dry, humidification should be an important part of humidity control. Any way, active/passive humidity control devices have become more and more adopted in microclimate moderation.     

I. Temperature Control


 Highly airtight showcase made by Relicase/ From Museum of Grand Canal (China), Yangzhou

Moderate low temperature is favorable for long term preservation of relics. Optimal temperature for relic conservation is 15℃-25℃, allow deviation of 2℃- 5℃. Most air-conditioning systems in museums are sufficient for temperature control. But extra climate control device can be introduced if more rigid temperature control is to be achieved. Other possible measures to maintain desired temperature are augmenting airtightness of museum display case and traffic control over visitors.  


 Highly airtight showcase made by Relicase/ From Museum of Grand Canal (China), Yangzhou

I. Air treatment

Comprehensive measures may be applied to treat pollutes in air. Dusts which often pile up in warehouses can be reduced by air purifiers and filters, while installation of dust removers at the entrance may cut off resource of incoming dusts. In the meantime, storage and display room should be tightly sealed to prevent harmful pollutes. Materials used on exterior would better be corrosion-resistant at the first place, and in case of acid rain, water proof measures should be applied to exposed constructions and statues.

I.  Light control

Ultra violet radiation in sunlight is killer to most relics. Long time exposure to sunlight will greatly accelerate aging. Therefore, fewer and smaller windows are popular in museums, especially exhibition halls. Sunlight should be prevented as much as possible.


Fiber optic lighting system in showcases in Jinsha Site Museum

On the other hand, lighting system on display cases should also filter out harmful UV radiation. Fiber optic lights and LED lights would be optimal options. 

I.  Innovation introduction

We are living in an era of technological booming. Innovations come up all around. Museums could keep close watch on industry news, and take advantage of breakthrough technologies.