Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Environmental control

Environmental control

From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Friday, July 12, 1996
In re the Smithsonian environmental control controversy:

1.  There has already been a great deal of discussion on this in the
    museum climate control community.  Certain matters are clear.
    Among other problems, this information was put out originally
    through a press release.  No written material in the technical
    literature contains data to support the figures.  The
    Smithsonian researchers have refused to participate in AIC
    meetings where others would be on hand to criticize their
    findings, and they pulled out of a half-day session at AIC in
    June where they had been on the program.

2.  Stated savings would only, at best, be accomplished in buildings
    which maintain the narrower +-3% levels.  To maintain the wider
    range which the Smithsonian people state as allowable would
    require basically the same installation, that is, complete vapor
    barriers to allow humidification that would not harm the building
    and a re-heat system to allow wintertime humidification.

3.  Attempts by other to duplicate their actual numbers have been in
    vain;  requests for further hard data have not worked.

4.  The implication that all conservators consider 50% +-3 to be a
    requirement for museum collections is simply not true.
    Conservators have traced written material stating that this is
    not necessary, and in many cases not even desirable,  back to
    the mid 70's at the latest.  My book was written in 1989 and
    certainly reflects an insistence that the 50% number is a

Responses of individual objects are as dependent on their own
materials and environmental histories as to any other variable.  If
the administrators of museums or other collection-holding
institutions are using the article as a reference, you need to get a
well-known and well-credentialed outside consultant to fight this
out. Aside from the merit of the case, I believe it reflects badly
on our field(s) if articles in a popular magazine are being used as
information sources.

Barbara Appelbaum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:9
                   Distributed: Friday, July 12, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-10-9-001
Received on Friday, 12 July, 1996

[Search all CoOL documents]