On the Early History of Museum Environment Control Nationalmuseum and Gripsholm Castle in Sweden, c.1866-1932

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Legnér, Mattias;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 56, Number 2, p.125-137 (2011)


Despite the fact that there have been investigations into the historical development of indoor climate recommendations, to date very little research has been carried out on how climate control in museums was actually implemented in the past. This article examines the development of climate control in two Swedish museum buildings up until the 1930s: Nationalmuseum and Gripsholm Castle. Nationalmuseum was erected to make the state collections more accessible to the public and to provide monitoring and central heating. At that time knowledge of climatic conditions in museums was tacit and based on personal experience rather than on scientific studies. However, in the early twentieth century the problem of managing museum climate increased as curators became more aware of the dehydrating effects of central heating on panels and polychrome wood. The first successful attempts to automatically control indoor climate were carried out at Gripsholm in the 1920s. The focus was then on monitoring and controlling temperature rather than relative humidity, but these early attempts also showed that extreme levels of humidity could be avoided in an environment that had never been designed for permanent heating. This article examines attempts at managing indoor climate between the 1860s and the 1930s.