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Environmental Monitoring at Arundel Museum

Museum Name

Arundel Museum 

Museum Contact

Katy Elliott Viney

Equipment / materials used or borrowed

Temperature and relative humidity Hanwell monitors

Dates of work / project carried out using the equipment / materials

Over the last 2-3 years from opening of museum in June 2013 until Jan 2016. 

How did you use the equipment / material to improve your collections care?

Because the museum was a new building we had no idea of environmental conditions in the gallery or stores. So we placed the monitors in identified areas, such as sunny/hot spots by windows; central area of gallery; in store. We then set up a weekly monitoring session using these monitors alongside a hand held reader (light/temp/RH) to cover specific objects such as paper based, painted items. We recorded results in the spreadsheet provided by Emily Nisbet-Hawkins (Preventive Conservation Officer for SEWS and KEN). The spreadsheet can be found on the South East Museum Devlopment website here.  

What was the impact of having this equipment / material available to you?

The results gathered over this time has directed us to improve the conditions where we can. They gave us evidence to make a case for buying UV film for all external windows and black out blinds. As well as purchasing fans for summer months to move air around in the gallery. 

What went well and what didn’t go well?

Having access to these monitors has helped us to understand our environment. It is dry RH and so we make extra effort to monitor wooden items on open display for drying out and cracking.

There have been no obvious difficulties. We asked for training from Emily especially with downloading the software and interpreting the results. It was essential to have this training as we were able to discuss how to act on the results within the limits of the museums buildings and budgets.

The curatorial department volunteers all engaged with the work because they were the ones to run the weekly monitoring programme. They have ownership and responsibility for taking readings and adding data to spread sheet. An initial presentation by Emily on Preventative Conservation to the group and wider museum team really helped people to understand the importance of this work and why we do it.

The visitors do see the monitoring taking place in the gallery on a weekly basis and the volunteers are always happy to discuss what they are doing and why. 

Top Tips

  • Have a Preventative Conservation training presentation first, to get people on board.
  • Have a supply of extra batteries
  • Have a scheduled time to check that the monitors are still running 

What are your plans for the future?

We will continue to monitor with the hand held device we have and pursue funding for a more permanent system in the future.