Temperature and humidity monitoring in museums

Temperature and humidity under strict control

Condition monitoring in museums

The range of temperature and relative humidity should be adapted to the type of exhibits and the material they are made from. Specific values of relative humidity and temperature recommended for storing works of art made from different materials are specified e.g. in the study „Determining the Acceptable Ranges of Relative Humidity And Temperature in Museums and Galleries” – Smithsonian Institution.


Proper temperature and relative humidity levels are defined by EN 15757:2012 (Conservation Of Cultural Property – Specifications For Temperature And Relative Humidity To Limit Climate-Induced Mechanical Damage In Organic Hygroscopic Materials).

According to the norm, the relative humidity in the room/cabinet with works of art should be determined on the basis of the so-called historical climate to which the items are acclimated for a longer time. The historical climate, i.e. the range of relative humidity and temperature in which exhibits have been stored without adverse effects, can be determined on the basis of measurements conducted for at least 12 months. Analyzing the historical climate, one should take into account seasonal changes in humidity, e.g. due to heating period.

Historical climate is described by three parameters:

  • AVERAGE VALUE OF RELATIVE HUMIDITY – the arithmetic mean of all measurements (the sum of all relative humidity measurements divided by the number of measurements). The measurements should come from the whole year. To determine seasonal changes, it is necessary to calculate the average value for each month.
  • CENTERED MOVING AVERAGE – moving average of 30 days (for the average for a given day, one takes into account measurements from two weeks before and two weeks ahead of the day)
  • SHORT-TERM FLUCTUATIONS – differences between day measurements and corresponding centered moving averages calculated for these days.

The values obtained from the above calculations describe the historical climate to which the exhibits have been acclimatized. Such conditions should be continued in the room/cabinet intended for storing the objects. What’s more, if the fluctuations in relative humidity have been significant, they should be minimized. The norm specifies that any fluctuations beyond the [-1.5, 1.5] range of standard deviation have to be eliminated.


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What and where you should monitor

Museum rooms

Temperature within 19–21°C is the best compromise between comfort of visitors and the expenditure for energy consumption. If the room temperature does not change rapidly, it has little effect on the condition of works of art.
The optimum relative humidity for mixed collections is 45–55%. Too high relative humidity (over 65%) can cause the growth of mold and fungi on paintings, metal corrosion or damage to library collections. On the other hand, too low relative humidity (below 25%) leads to the loss of hygroscopic water – fragility of materials like leather or paper, and an increase of mechanical stress, especially in wood items.


    Server rooms, archives, boiler rooms

    In the museum there are rooms such as server rooms, archives and as well as boiler rooms and technical rooms. These places must be secured against water, which may result in data loss as well as financial and image losses.
    These rooms can be monitored using remote systems such as flood sensors, both the entire surface and the designated area.


      Power consumption

      In every company, energy costs are a significant item in the statement of expenditure. It is not surprising, therefore, that measures to reduce them are treated more and more seriously, as reducing these costs may increase the company’s profitability.
      The Efento system allows you to monitor not only electricity but also water or gas consumption. The use of pulse counters allows constant monitoring of costs, generating alarms when exceeded, as well as full visualization of data on the cloud platform.


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