Documenting and Assessing Collection Storage Environments in the National Museum of Denmark (2004-2007)

National Museum of Denmark ObjectThe preservation of national identity and cultural heritage is very important to the Danish people, as indicated by the commitment of the Danish Ministry of Culture to fund this three-year research project, carried out jointly by IPI and theNational Museum of Denmark(NMD). Working together, IPI and NMD developed a holistic approach to the preservation of collections.

Beginning in the Fall of 2004, IPI’s preservation management technology and approaches were applied to the evaluation of NMD’s storage and display spaces. Data collected by over 150 Preservation Environment Monitors® (PEM®) and analyzed using Climate Notebook® software, was reviewed along with related data from mechanical systems and the outdoor climate to provide a complete picture of the museum’s storage environments and their effect on collection materials. Together, the NMD conservation, facilities, and collection management staff worked with IPI to evaluate and improve the storage climate and to optimize both their operating costs and the preservation quality of the storage environment.

Image Permanence Institute staff worked closely with their consulting partners—Zak Software in Chili, NY, for programming and database development, and Herzog/Wheeler and Associates in St. Paul, MN, for expertise in energy-efficient operation of mechanical systems.

Our primary goal was to determine whether existing facilities were delivering preservation quality conditions appropriate to the collections they housed. Secondarily, research and analysis would determine whether existing mechanical systems had the capacity to adequately preserve important NMD collections. Finally, the tools and procedures that IPI had developed would be used to generate documentation of the need for improvements.

The first task was to create an infrastructure for gathering and accessing environmental data. IPI PEMs and Climate Notebook software provided the basis for an efficient and reliable system to measure and document the state of storage environments at facilities throughout Denmark. As the project evolved, the technology for viewing and analyzing not only environmental data but a wide range of associated information evolved as well. To enable the project to reach its goals we designed Myclimatedata.com, a prototype Collection Storage Information System designed specifically for NMD. This secure web-based site was designed to include all collected environmental data along with information about every associated building, storage location, mechanical system, collection, and logger. The data management capabilities, along with the range of graphs, tables, lists, and images available in the new system, made research and analysis faster, easier, and more effective. MyClimateData.com works in conjunction with Climate Notebook software to distill data, apply preservation metrics, and present information in a range of formats.

Since the end of the NMD project in 2007, MyClimateData.com has developed into an important advance in the presentation of environmental data, this system delivering reliable information based on scientific research in a format that is easy to understand and points the way toward effective improvements in collection care. 

 


IPI can work with your organization to develop an Environmental Monitoring and Analysis project that fits your needs, from designing an environmental management program, purchasing monitoring equipment, evaluating HVAC design plans, review of existing mechanical systems, energy saving opportunities, risk analysis, and more.

Contact Patricia Ford to discuss your needs: pafpph@rit.edu