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Eibl, Melanie and Burmester, Andreas (2013) Learning from history. Historic indoor climate conditions and climate control strategies. Climate for Collections - Standards and Uncertainties. Postprints of the Munich Climate Conference 7 to 9 November 2012. pp. 217-232.

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Recommendations for relative humidity and temperature in museums were initially developed from practical observations on the interaction between works of art and the surrounding environment. Later, the values were specified on the basis of knowledge of the material characteristics of objects and research into the chemical and physical mechanisms of deterioration. The availability of technical equipment to control the environment has also influenced the development of these fixed values, which are today more strict than human comfort criteria. However, an increased concern to conserve natural resources combined with the financial limitations faced by most museums and historic houses has generated discussion about whether the existing fixed values should be re-evaluated. One of the main arguments is the ‘proofed fluctuation concept’. Briefly summarised, the assumption is that if an artwork were damaged by its climate in the past, no new damage will occur as long as the current environmental conditions remain more favourable than the historic extremes. To date, however, this argument has not been proven and there is a lack of research into modelling historic indoor environments. This paper presents an innovative attempt to reconstruct the 175 years of building history of one of the first free-standing museum buildings, the Alte Pinakothek. Six phases are distinguished, each representing a particular building concept with its own climate control strategy, which impacted in different ways on the indoor climate conditions in the museum. The historic indoor climate conditions and related energy consumption are modelled with input from archival sources such as building plans, blueprints, correspondence, submissions, invoices, etc. By analysing the simulations of past indoor climate conditions, the efficacy of the simple technical interventions of the past is revealed, enabling an insight into the architectural expertise of those involved with the museum over the decades. New information about the historic levels and fluctuations of relative humidity and temperature is uncovered by comparing the different building phases. This review of past approaches demonstrates that architects in earlier times were generalists who understood the complex interactions between an architectural concept, the building envelope, building physics and the specific conditions of the site. In addition, this retrospective indicates that our construction of the concept of sustainability should also encompass the practice of drawing conclusions from the past for future generations. A sustainable conservation strategy should be based upon an understanding of historic approaches and environmental conditions as well as sound preventive conservation practice informed by social and economic considerations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate control strategies, Standards, Energy consumption, Simulation, Temperature, Relative humidity, Energy efficiency, Sustainability, Preventive conservation
Subjects: English > Climate Control
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Depositing User: Universitetsadjunkt Susanna Carlsten
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2013 14:14
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 10:59

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