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Assessment and monitoring the environment of cultural property

Objective

This project is a study of the atmospheres in which cultural properties are displayed and stored. The project has two objectives:

1. To examine, characterize and quantify various typical environments of cultural property
2. To develop a glass-based sensor to facilitate assessment of these environments.

Research is being carried out to provide a low cost and easy to handle technique for monitoring and assessing the indoor environment, which is needed by those institutions who deal with works of art.

Investigations of the inorganic compounds of the environmental pollution are executed using a mixed bed of polymeric and activated charcoal absorbers (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide). The sampling for the organic compounds takes place both by active pumped samples and diffusion controlled passive sampling whereas registration of relative humidity and temperature changes is obtained with a datalogger using personal computer (PC) based software. The returning of the absorption tubes for the volatile organic compounds (VOC) facilitates analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

At the same time a glass based sensor will gain additional information to promote a better comprehension of the combined impact of the microenvironment and of dose response relationships. Materials scientists are investigating and examining the properties of appropriate glasses and glasslike materials to obtain a prototype indoor sensor. There are 2 main routes which are the topics of development: the physical and chemical surface treatment and an optimization in the chemical composition of the model sensor glasses in order to achieve sufficient sensitivity for indoor pollution levels.
Damage to cultural property is caused by environmental pollution in museums, libraries, and historic buildings. There are immense economic costs of conservation and restoration.

Humidity, light, and air pollution (mainly sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and organic acids) are the concerns of conservators and curators. Materials such as leather, paper, rubber, textiles, glass, and plastics are vulnerable to the attack of indoor pollutants.

Up to now only some museums are monitoring indoor pollution at all. This is due to high costs and to the highly sophisticated technical equipment needed for monitoring indoor environment. Therefore, a low cost and easy-to-handle technique is required by institutions in charge of cultural property.

In this project comparative assessments and examinations of the environment of cultural property sites in northern, central and southern Europe are carried out. This survey, at three completely different climatic areas will provide the basis for the second major objective of the proposed project: The development of an innovative glass technology which has the potential for

- assessing the damage potential of the investigated environment
- developing effective transport and protection methods for art objects.

The assessment will also provide a complementary picture of the distribution of environmental pollution in Europe. This, the first comprehensive study of its type, will help to provide information about the relationship of indoor/outdoor pollution and a greater understanding of the environments in which art objects are stored, displayed and transported. A detailed knowledge of the types and levels of pollution and the resulting damage potentials or environments will enable optimization of interactive conservation work to be carried out. This will carry a significant cost saving.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

FRAUNHOFER GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V.*
Address
Neunerplatz 2
97082 Wuerzburg
Germany

Participants (2)

Museu do Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Victoria
Portugal
Address

2440 Batalha
Victoria and Albert Museum
United Kingdom
Address
South Kensington
SW7 2RL London