Data Loggers used to Protect Ancient Artefacts
Signatrol has been working alongside a museum and archive based in Stornoway using new technology to monitor the relative humidity and temperature of artefacts in the museum’s brand new home.
Signatrol's miniature temperature and relative humidity data loggers
One of Signatrol's data loggers that is used to monitor temperature and relative humidity in museums and galleries is the miniature temp and humidity (RH) data logger, the SL54TH. At only 17mm in diameter and 6mm tall, it is discreet and can be positioned inside cabinets and displays without causing any disruption or taking attention away from the artefacts. The full datasheet for the SL54TH data logger is available for download here.
It is self contained with the ability to record up to 8,000 data points, and depending on the sample rate selected, can have a battery life of up to 6 years.
Using Spydaq, Signatrol's low-cost wireless monitoring system, Stornoway museum is able to track air temperature and humidity to ensure that optimum conditions for the delicate artefacts are maintained. This is essential for environmental management, to protect the valuable objects from decay or damage, which can happen as a result of the smallest changes in environmental conditions.
Following its recent transformation, the museum and archive has moved into a new purpose built extension to Lews Castle. It's range of objects tells the stories of the Islands and Islanders through the ages and how their culture is expressed through the Gaelic language, religion and community life are on display.
Among the collection are Neolithic carved stone balls and Bronze Age burial goods. Archaeological metal, such as bronze, is very responsive to environmental conditions, making it particularly at risk to sudden changes in humidity conditions. For this reason, it is vital for the museum to carefully monitor the relative humidity (RH) and temperature inside the display cases in which the objects are kept, which is done using the Spydaq wireless data logging system. As well as monitoring conditions to avoid degradation of the objects, Spydaq is also able to help the museum to identify the trends that may be causing a shift in conditions within the facility.
Sensors operate in both the gallery and are sometimes fitted into the display cases to log the data; these can then be monitored remotely via the internet.
Being wireless means that the sensor locations can be easily changed if required. The wireless system is used to compare data with the museum’s hard wired buildings management system.
What is environmental monitoring?
Environmental monitoring refers to the measurement and recording of environmental risks such as light, relative humidity, temperature and pollution. Environmental monitoring requires a knowledge of the factors to be monitored and the ways in which monitoring can be carried out and recorded.
The importance of monitoring the museum or gallery environment
It’s important to monitor temperature and humidity regularly and frequently, to get a complete picture of the museum environment. Ideally temperature and RH should be measured and recorded continuously, 24 hours a day, as temperature and relative humidity can change multiple times throughout the day.
Environmental monitoring helps the museum to plan how to control the environment to provide conditions that preserve collections. It can help to identify if there are any problems within the museum which could negatively affect the displays and artefacts. Measures can then be put in place and adjustments made as necessary
Temperature and relative humidity are essential elements of the correct care of museum collections. If the conditions are wrong, artefacts and pieces could start to ruin. Mould, pests, deterioration and decolouration are just a handful of the problems that can be if temperature and humidity aren’t monitored and adjustments to the environment made as necessary.
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