Environmental conditions for safeguarding collections: What should our set points be?

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Bickersteth, Julian;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 4, p.218-224 (2014)


This paper explores the complex question of environmental conditions in museums and the current status of the IIC and ICOM-CC working group on environmental conditions in museums. Reviewing environmental conditions in museums in the light of sustainability and cost of energy pressures has resulted in members of the conservation profession holding differing views on what can safely be implemented. These views vary from leaving conditions at the current recommend levels, to promoting a substantial broadening of parameters. To understand how these positions have been reached, the history of environmental guidelines is surveyed. Moving forward, IIC in conjunction with ICOM-CC has established a working group to investigate the current global perspective on environmental conditions on a country-by-country basis, to identify a methodology by which a fresh and relevant review of these current positions can lead to practical outcomes, and to encourage dialogue with the broader museum profession. This paper reports on the interim findings of the working group and discusses the issues that arise from them. These include the lack of transparency between institutions in regards to actual conditions, the need for wider debate with museum colleagues, and the necessity of further experiential knowledge sharing rather than experimental research.