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A Quick Guide to Ideal Conditions for Art & Artefact Conservation

16 January 2024

A Quick Guide to Ideal Conditions for Art & Artefact Conservation


In the world of art and artifact conservation, ensuring that the right environmental conditions are sustained is of utmost importance.


Temperatures that are too high can cause irreversible damage to artworks such as fading and discolouration on print and paper and cracking, corrosion and structural damage on metal objects,  warping or deformation on sculptures. While very low temperatures can induce increased vulnerability to tearing and breakage on print and paper, susceptibility to cracking due to extreme cold on sculptures and brittle behaviour enhancing the risk of fractures on metal objects. 


This article serves as your Roadmap, highlighting temperature, humidity and water leak tips to protect and maintain the optimal condition of valuable art and artefacts. 




Temperature Guideline: Create the right atmosphere by keeping the artworks and artefacts in a temperature sweet-spot between 18°C (64.4°F) and 22°C (71.6°F). Steer clear of extremes, aiming for gradual fluctuations within 15°C (59°F) to 25°C (77°F) to thwart deterioration.


   Let's explore specific recommendations for different materials:

    Paintings (Oil on Canvas)

  •        Optimal temperature: 20°C ± 2°C  (68°F)

  •        Ideal humidity: 45% ± 5%


    Photographs (Silver Gelatin Prints)

  •       Recommended temperature: 18°C ± 2°C (64.4°F )

  •       Humidity sweet-spot: 40% ± 5%


    Textiles

  •       Best temperature: 21°C ± 2°C (69.8°F )

  •       Recommended humidity: 55% ± 5%


    Wooden Artefacts:

  •        Optimal Temperature: 22°C ± 2°C (71.6°F).

  •        Ideal Humidity: 50% ± 5%


Works on Paper

  • Maintain a temperature range of 18-21°C (65-70°F) with a relative humidity of 45-55%


Metal Objects

  •  Store between 15-24°C (60-75°F) with a humidity level of 30-50%.


Sculptures

  • Aim for a consistent temperature of 20-22°C (68-72°F) and a relative humidity of 40-55%. 


Different Approach for Humidity

  • Keep relative humidity (RH) steady between 40% and 60%.

  • Guard against sudden fluctuations; slow and steady changes are the key to avoiding damage.


Water Leak Prevention 

  • Regularly check storage areas for leaks.

  • Install active monitoring sensors that alert you timeously if there's an issue

  • Introduce waterproofing measures to protect your valuable collection.



GENERAL TIPS

  • Utilize dehumidifiers as needed

  • Install monitoring systems for real time data and pro-active alerts

  • Protect sensitive art and artifacts from direct sunlight.



Detecting Suboptimal Conditions - If you suspect less than optimal conditions:


Monitor regularly:

Implement a robust monitoring system which alerts you when conditions go out of spec.


Investigate anomalies:

Investigate any deviations promptly and rectify the problem, or move the works to a better location.


Consult experts:

Seek advice from conservation professionals for corrective action.


Preserving art and artefacts is an ongoing commitment. By understanding the intricacies of temperature, humidity and water leakages and adhering to optimal thresholds, we contribute to the longevity of our artistic heritage. Consider this Guide to care for your valuable assets, ensuring that they are nurtured and are in the most suitable environment and will have a long legacy.



Need Help? Talk to Artfundi about our comprehensive high-tech security system for protecting art and artefacts, which includes tracking location in real time, monitoring the environment, temperature humidity, and water leaks. 


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