At the recent International Conference on Heritage of the Naqada and Qus region, held in Egypt in January 2007, it was revealed that the famous "solar boat" in the Giza was in need of re-conservation, partly as a result of the museum environment in which it is kept.
Dr Hany Hanna Aziz Hanna, the chair of the conference, described the results of a comprehensive condition survey of the boat. The boat is suffering from exposure to an uncontrolled environment, and from the hundreds of visitors who pass close by it each day. Effects include corrosion of metal parts, desiccation and warping of the timbers, and pest and fungal infestation. However, Dr Hanna's strongest criticism was reserved for the museum itself, and for the detrimental effect of its unsuitable design and construction materials:
The peculiar design of the museum does not provide the proper environment for preserving the wood. Several sheets of glass allowed the sun rays to enter without any prevention or filtration for most of the spectrum, across the full range of UV, visible and IR radiation. The space between the glass panes also does not prevent rainwater, pollution, rodents and insects from entering the boat. The air control system of the museum is so antiquated that it depends on a freezing system using Freon gas to function, and does not supply a suitably controlled air-conditioned environment to preserve and protect the wood.
The preprints of the conference, including Dr Hanna's paper about the boat, were published last month in English and in Arabic.
Don't sink the boat -- Al Ahram Weekly