Sustainable environments: call for information

Paintings being evacuated from the National Gallery during the Second World War. Photo via Wikipedia

You might remember back in March 2014 the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM) released some new guidelines about the best conditions for preservation for cultural objects. This was the result of several years of international debate about how to address increasing demands for improved sustainability and escalating energy costs within museums and other collecting agencies.

The debate had raged long and hard about the difficulties of maintaining one standard across all material types and all climates. Reference was made to the origins of the standards: post Second World War and very Eurocentric. You can read more about how the first standards were arrived at here.

In March 2014 the new conditions were set at:

  • Temperature: between 15–25°C with allowable fluctuations of +/-4°C per 24 hr.
  • Relative Humidity: between 45-55% with an allowable fluctuation of +/- 5% per 24 hr.
  • Where storage and display environments experience seasonal drift, RH change to be managed gradually across a wider range limited to 40% – 60%.

Two years have passed and the AICCM is interested in developing a ‘southern hemisphere perspective’ on the environmental standards for loans. They want to hear from regional galleries, small museums and historic houses who have successfully or unsuccessfully complied with the standards during the loan process.

This is the type of thing they want to hear about:

  • Does your institution aim to comply with environmental standards as typically stipulated in loan agreements?
  • Have there been instances where compliance was not achievable?
  • Has your institution declined to lend or been declined in a request to receive a loan on the basis of environmental standards?
  • Has your institution knowingly approved the loan of objects to others where compliance with tight environmental standards was waived?

Read more or contact Amanda Pagliarino, Chair, AICCM Environmental Standards Committee.

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