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Humidity in Museums & Galleries

Imagine strolling down the Thames to the Tate Modern Art Gallery or exploring the British Museum. These cultural treasures are invaluable. Shouldn't we all do everything we can to preserve them? Museums and galleries are an excellent way to pass down our legacy and important historical events to the younger generationIt would be a shame if you saw mould forming on the Egyptian mummies due to unregulated humidity when you were actually trying to show your kids how great the civilisation wasNot only does humidity affect exhibits and paintings, but it also has a negative impact on the historical structures themselvesSo, maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity should be the top priority for museum and gallery management.

What Would Happen if Humidity Was Not Regulated Properly?

Depending on the items displayed, it is generally agreed that a museum or gallery environment requires a relative humidity (RH) of between 40% and 65%. For instance, the optimised RH for photographs is between 20% and 30%. It is between 45% and 55% for books and manuscripts. You should maintain an optimised level of RH at all times to offer the exhibits the most ideal storage space. If there is an imbalance in RH, it could give rise to some serious problems.

If the RH is too high, the excess moisture triggers condensation. Condensation may contribute to mould and fungal growth on precious historical items. If the RH went over 70%, it would also create a favourable environment for pests to grow. If the RH is too low, it dries out materials, especially glues and veneers on wooden exhibits. They may break or lift and ruin the items on which they contain.

Is everything sorted if you maintain the RH between 40% and 65%? Absolutely not! Even if it is within the acceptable range, an unstable RH still causes significant damage to valuable fixtures and art piecesFor instance, a wooden picture frame, which is a hygroscopic material, expands and contracts with the rise and drop of RH. It will then weaken and shrink accordingly. Stability is key!

Preserve Our Cultural Heritage for the Next Generation

Museums and galleries are more than just a place to store historic objects and paintings. They collect and showcase culturally and scientifically significant exhibits that enrich our cultural experiencesApart from good heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, dehumidification systems also play a vital role in preserving valuable collectibles. High-quality dehumidifiers would be useful to maintain the perfect conditions for them.

How Dehumidifiers Encourage the Continuation of Human Civilisation

You can use dehumidifiers in a large, open exhibit area. They allow you to regulate the level of humidity with precision. You can use both traditional compressor dehumidifiers and desiccant dehumidifiers in a museum or gallery environmentrefrigerant model extracts moisture from the air by forming condensation with refrigerated coilsThey are simple and cost-effective to run, and they work effectively in temperatures above 15 degrees, which is an ideal temperature for a wide range of exhibitsMost of them come with a built-in condensate pump that automatically pumps condensate water away from the unit, as continuous operation is important for exhibit storage.

For photographs or videotapes, the optimum storage temperature ranges from -5 to 20 degreesDesiccant dehumidifiers work well in this case because they function just as well at considerably lower temperatures than compressor dehumidifiers doThe lower the temperature the longer your items will last, because cooler temperatures slow the rate of chemical decay and reduce insect activityA desiccant model sucks up the moisture from the incoming air and vents it out as water vapour externally, so you don’t have to worry about emptying water containers.

Museum dehumidifiers come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different spaces. You can also choose between freestanding and wall-mounted dehumidifiers, depending on your needs. In order not to interrupt visitors’ journeys, wall-mounted models are preferable. They save more space and would not ruin the design of a museum or gallery. In an art gallery or museum, however, you may need different humidity levels. In this sense, portable, freestanding dehumidifiers would be ideal. Sometimes you might need multiple units to cover bigger areas.

The drying process can be accelerated if you use dehumidifiers with integrated heat pumpsThe pumps convert the majority, or even all the dehumidification energy back into heat, which consequently facilitates the drying processTherefore, they manage to dry and warm the air in the area at the same time. They would be an ideal and energy-efficient solution for museums and galleries.