Overview of preventive conservation and the museum environment in China

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nan Feng;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup1, p.18-22 (2016)


Based on a nationwide investigation of the current state of preservation of museum objects in China, around 51% of the 35 million museum objects show different degrees of deterioration. Although treatment of objects is necessary, treatment alone is not sufficient. In China's present situation, preventing damage to museum objects is much more cost-effective than allowing damage to happen and then treating it. The number of museums in China is increasing very fast: 23 000 exhibitions are held, 600 million visits are made, and 35 000 archaeological objects are excavated nationwide, each year. At the same time, these museums are widely distributed and have different levels of resources. We need both technical knowledge and preventive conservation to safeguard our precious museum objects. This paper introduces research achievements in preventive conservation, and traces the development of this discipline in China. Starting from the classification of museums in China, legislation is detailed on preventive measures such as selecting appropriate light sources, controlling temperature, relative humidity, light damage, and pollutants. This paper describes achievements in monitoring, analysis, evaluation, and control of museum environments in China. It also proposes future directions for museum environment studies during China's twelfth Five-Year Plan.