1.23 Selected Topics on Museum Climatology and the Environmental Needs of Unique Artifacts

Misc. GCI staff

Principal Publication
Druzik, J. R., "Storage and Conservation-What's New," Workshop and Paper presented to Inland California Museum Consortium, 5th Annual Meeting, The Local Museum: Making it Work, Riverside Municipal Museum, Riverside, California, June 3, 1989.

ABSTRACT-Three areas of general concern to small local museums and their current state of research: (1) insect pest management and fumigation, (2) deterioration from air pollution indoors, (3) energy conservation and questions concerning temperature and relative humidity levels in storage and display.

Sobel, H., and E. Hansen, "Effects of Environmental Changes on Historic Collagen and Other Proteins," Poster submitted to Protein Society Meeting, July 29-August 2, 1989, Seattle, Washington.

ABSTRACT-In 1969 Sobel suggested that archaeological structural proteins might retain a history of their biological and postmortem environments that were responsible for the observed molecular modifications. Collagen containing materials are unusually resistant to necrolytic processes and have been processed throughout history as objects of utility, art, and religion. Understanding environmental nonenzymatic modifications of collagen may help to determine history, authenticate, and suggest conditions for conservation. This poster shows known modifications of collagen including crosslinks which occur during normal maturation and known environmentally-produced changes including those which result from free-radical effects such as dityrosine formation. The results of ongoing work on the collagen of historic parchments, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the collagen of mummified human remains are presented.

Stulik, D. C., J. R. Druzik, and F. Preusser, "GCI-Environmental Research Program," Extended Abstract and Poster, European Symposium, Science, Technology and the European Cultural Heritage, June 13, 1989.

SUMMARY-Different facets of a broadly-based environmental research program conducted at the Getty Conservation Institute are described and briefly discussed. Current research includes indoor and outdoor pollution studies of museum microenvironments and biodeterioration, and research on seismic isolation and mitigation. Future trends of the GCI's environmental research are also outlined and specified.

Hansen, E., "The Optimum Display and Storage Conditions for the Dead Sea Scrolls," Paper presented at the WAAC, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 1989.

ABSTRACT-The factors affecting the display and storage conditions for the Dead Sea Scrolls are reviewed. These include:

1. the chemical and physical stability of collagen (the major constituent in remains derived from skin);

2. the traditional methods for the manufacture of parchment and the unique method of manufacture of the Dead Sea Scrolls by the Essenic community.

3. the current recommendations for the storage of parchment in the conservation literature; and

4. the results of biological studies and mechanical testing performed at the GCI to determine environmental conditions for the long-term stability of the Scrolls.

In addition, the results of pilot studies using instrumental methods of analysis such as Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering (WAXS), cross-polarization magic-angle spinning 13C NMR, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy-Attenuated Total Reflectance (FTIR-ATR) to determine the physical and chemical state of parchment samples, are presented.

Preusser, F., "Our Environmental Enemies," Paper presented at Collections, Monuments and Architecture at Risk: A Forum for Southern California Decision Makers, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 27, 1989.

ABSTRACT-For those concerned with the preservation of cultural heritage the environment encompasses both natural and man-made environmental factors. Relative humidity, temperature, and light are the factors most publicized in the museum literature. Outdoor and indoor generated air pollution in the museum environment has become a research topic only in the last decade, while pollution damage to buildings and monuments has already been recognized in the nineteenth century. Acid precipitation, street salt, changing water tables, biological activities (ranging from bacteria to trees), human impact, natural and man-made disasters, all pose a threat to our cultural heritage.

Preusser, F., "Critical Issues in the Museum Environment," American Chemical Society, Division of Environmental Chemistry, Miami, Florida, September 10-15, 1989.

ABSTRACT-Traditionally, conservation dealt with the treatment of single objects. Lack of human and financial resources, and ever-growing collections, however, allow us to pay this detailed attention only to a minute fraction of our cultural heritage. Archives house millions of books and documents, Natural history collections range from a few thousand to 200 million objects; anthropological and fine arts museums are often in a similar situation. Therefore the control of the environment within museums seems to be the most practical solution for the preservation of whole collections. While until the industrial revolution humidity, temperature, lighting, and human carelessness were the major threats to museum objects, we have now added acidic air pollution, photochemical smog, indoor-generated air pollution, and airborne particulates to our environments.

Scott, D. A., "Environmental Considerations in the Deterioration of Indoor and Outdoor Copper-Based Alloys," American Chemical Society, Division of Environmental Chemistry, Miami, Florida, September 10-15, 1989.

ABSTRACT-The environmental factors which need to be discussed in relation to external and interior metallic objects are reviewed, with particular reference to objects made of copper alloys. There has been considerable interest in this topic within the conservation profession for a number of years, but the fundamental chemical work required to answer some of the outstanding questions which remain has not been addressed in detail. In order to set the general context of the environmental problems, a general review of some of the information concerned with the corrosion and deterioration of copper-based alloys is given. There are very different problems with metallic objects, depending on whether they have been exposed to the air for long periods in an outdoor environment, or whether they have been buried in the soil or under the sea.

Scott, D. A., "Bronze Disease: A Review of Some Chemical Problems and the Role of Relative Humidity," Studies in Conservation, Vol. 29, 1990, pp. 193-206.

ABSTRACT: Starting with the early work of Berthelot, the chemical explanation for the process of bronze disease is examined. In particular, the model proposed by Organ to account for the instability of bronzes containing cuprous chloride is studied and new suggestions to account for the cyclical nature of bronze disease are discussed. The reactions of cuprous chloride and the formation of the copper trihydroxychlorides are reviewed and a series of experiments carried out to examine what products form when copper metalor cuprous chloride are reacted under a variety of conditions. The critical relative humidity for the transformation of cuprous chloride is discussed and suggestions are made concerning both the storage conditions for bronzes and the variations which are found in the occurrence of cuprous chloride in excavated bronzes.

The recrystallized grains of the silver are large and continue across the boundary of the surface altered zone, illustrating the continuity of the microstructure.

All the evidence derived from this study is consistent with a new date of manufacture in the seventeenth century c.e.

Hansen, E., "Factors to be Considered in Determining the Optimum for the Display and Storage for Parchment," Paper presented at the Book and Paper Specialty Group Session, 19th Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 1991.

ABSTRACT-None available.

Hansen, E., and H. Sobel, "Factors to be Considered in Determining the Optimum Relative Humidity for the Display and Storage of Parchment," Annual of the American Institute for Conservation Book and Paper Group, 1991.

ABSTRACT-None available.

King, S., and C. Pearson, "Environmental Control for Cultural Institutions: Appropriate Design and the Use of Alternative Technologies," Paper presented at the ARAAFU Symposium, Paris, France, October 1992.

ABSTRACT-For some time, concern has been expressed that conventional modern approaches to museum climatology place too great an emphasis on modern technology and sophisticated monitoring procedures. Sophisticated systems, such as full air conditioning, are expensive to install and require expert maintenance and other backup resources for their operation. Such resources are often lacking in developing countries and other geographically remote regions. It would appear a need exists to develop design strategies and alternative technology solutions for museum climatology, appropriate for each collection and its local conditions, which would reduce the dependence on air conditioning. The Getty Conservation Institute and the University of Canberra have initiated a research program to investigate such approaches. This paper reports on progress of the research to date, and highlights areas of difficulty.

Hansen, E., S. Lee, and H. Sobel, "The Effect of Relative Humidity on Some Physical Properties of Modern Vellum: Implications for the Optimum Display and Storage Conditions for Parchment," Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, Vol. 31, Nš 3, 1992, pp. 325-342.

ABSTRACT-None available.

Schilling, M. R. and W. S. Ginell, "The Effects of Relative Humidity Changes on Dead Sea Scrolls Parchment Samples," ICOM Committee for Conservation, 10th Triennial Meeting, Washington, DC, 22-27 August 1993, Preprints. pp. 50-56.

ABSTRACT- The dimensional response of parchment to changes in relative humidity was studied using RH-step jump thermomechanical analysis, in order to determine the optimum RH conditions for storage of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The magnitude of the dimensional change that occurs on reducing the storage relative humidity is considerably smaller for degraded parchment than for modern parchment. In addition, although the half-time for establishment of water vapor equilibrium is longer for degraded parchments than for modern parchment, the absolute response time is relatively rapid. Furthermore, scroll samples, degraded modern parchment and gelatin showed little (<0.2%) permanent dimensional changes following RH cycling to 16% under the test conditions. This is in contrast to the 1% deformation showed by modern parchment. In conclusion, because brittleness and cockling become important factors at low RH, a reasonable compromise RH between hygric expansion stability and mechanical stability seems to be 35<RH<40%.