June 20, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

The Use of Humidifiers in Museums

5 min read

Nothing compares to immersive experience that only museums can provide for people of diverse backgrounds. This allows individuals to get up close and personal to artifacts and objects of great historical, cultural, and religious significance like paintings, sculptures, relics, bones, furniture pieces, and textile; to name a few. Visiting museums is an interactive and unique experience that does not just educate but also introduce people to a lost world that has been preserved in an institution.

Museums offer a unique environment for explorative education which taps not just into the cognitive but also the emotional aspects of learning. Being in museums allow people to experience an entire rollercoaster of emotions that make one think, reflect, experiment, probe, create, and be inspired. This is an avenue to traverse or travel in time and space. Exposure to museums makes people inquisitive with a curiosity likened to that of a child. This sparks the interest of children, adults, and even the elderly as it is very stimulating and is a great conversation-starter especially for groups who frequent museums.

Humidification System for Museums

The intrinsic goal of museums is to showcase and make artifacts as well as other materials accessible to the public. More so, museum authorities and staff are faced with the challenge of safeguarding and preserving artifacts by preventing depreciative factors. Managing and maintaining a controlled environment to retain the quality of artifacts can be achieved by means of proper humidification. Standard environmental conditions must be set to ensure longevity and durability of materials and artifacts in museums.

Time certainly does not wait for anyone or even anything for that matter. While time is a prized value in museums, this is also what makes artifacts depreciate in value. Hence, there is a need to preserve and keep the environmental quality of museums in strict balance. Museum curators must be on top of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition systems which prevent the deterioration of artifacts. Fluctuation in humidity levels may cause irreversible damage to artifacts. While most museum authorities think that such maintenance is expensive, this is actually achievable even with limited resources.

Museums should have optimum humidity levels to ensure that artifacts are kept in its original quality for long term. Most artifacts in museums are made of organic materials like paper, wood, ivory, bone, leather, fur, fabric, ceramics, canvas, and paint; among others. These materials are said to react variable with temperature and humidity changes. Museum exhibits which are mostly made of natural materials which are very sensitive and are prone to damage especially with low humidity levels.

Radical Effects of Fluctuating Humidity Levels

Installation of a humidification system in museums will provide balance to the humidity levels of a building. Artifacts that are made of natural materials usually absorb or emit moisture which results mostly in flaking, staining, shrinking, chipping, and loosening of materials because of the extremely dry atmosphere that can render damage deemed irreversible and expensive. Yes, repairs are actually more costly than installing a humidification system in museums. Humidity levels in museums tend to be erratic and fluctuate because which could be difficult to sustain considering the influx of visitors that come day-in and day-out. The recommended humidity levels are set at 30% to 60% but this varies depending on the material. For most museums, a Relative Humidity or RH of 50% is recommended for use.

Fact is – as materials age, these also tend to be more fragile and prone to damage. Different materials react variably to changes in humidity and temperature levels. Wood artifacts could crack or warp due to moisture loss. Paintings could flake or blister over time. Ivory could also crack or split similar to that of wood. Textiles such as silk could go brittle and break up. Stone, pottery, and terracotta could also flake and stain due to salt crystallization.

How to Humidify Museums

The main challenge for museums is how to efficiently manage humidification systems despite problems with environmental stability. Even the slightest spikes in temperature and humidity levels could be damaging to exhibits which is why humidification systems must be controlled and extremely reliable 24/7.

Humidification can be implemented in museums with the following:

HVAC Systems

This humidification system evenly distributes clean heated or cooled air into the museum. This includes a cooling tower, chiller, boiler, and air handles. This circulates the cold water which effectively cools the entire museum.

Direct Refrigeration Units

This is ideal for institutions with smaller areas. The cooling system includes the fan, coils, and filters; with the condenser installed out of the main building which acts as the cooling tower.

Uses and Benefits of Humidifiers in Museums

Prevention and Protection Against Irreversible Damage

Humidity imbalance can drastically depreciate the quality and value of displayed materials in museums. A regulated and well-controlled humidification system will ensure that antiques and artifacts will be preserved in its original state.

Reduction of Electrostatic Charges

Increased electrostatic charges attract more dust particles which can cause particle deposits on displayed artifacts. Optimal air humidification helps lessen electrostatic charges that trigger the accumulation or undue buildup of dust.

Creates an Inviting Atmosphere for Guests

The optimized humidity levels in museums creates a cool and engaging climate for visitors that will ensure a comfortable, fresh, and enriching experience for guests who would want to relive the experience over and over again.

You have to go for smart options when shopping for a humidification system that will work for your museum. It must be reliable, accurate, and low-maintenance. In addition, the humidification system must also integrate seamlessly with your existing building management system, can continuously operate for long hours, durable, and is cost-effective.

Hosting a humidification system should be coupled by monitoring of humidity and temperature levels with the use of a digital hygrometer which allows round-the-clock monitoring and examination of temperature and humidity levels. This device is inexpensive, practically handy, and accurate. While you take note of indoor humidity and temperature levels, monitoring climate outdoors and seasonal changes will be helpful in managing your humidification system.

Maintenance of museums with the use of humidifiers ensures that collections and exhibits will be well-preserved in form and value as well as safeguarded for many generations to explore and admire in its lifelike grandeur.


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