Contributions to the AICCM National Conference 2013, Adelaide 23-25 October
Relaxed environmental parameters for museums have been on the table for consideration by the conservation community for at least the last five years, promoted by building managers and directors alike. Two years ago it looked as though international agreement on relaxation of environmental conditions in museums and galleries to reduce energy consumption, whilst not compromising the preservation of collections, was close. The AICCM Taskforce on Environmental Guidelines produced a draft document, but this never saw the light of day, and the reality is that agreement is still a long way off, due to strongly held and often polarised views within the conservation profession.
It is acknowledged that existing environmental parameters for collections are based on a blanket approach, and are unnecessarily tight for all but the most vulnerable of artworks (e.g. panel paintings), and major museums and galleries worldwide are recognising this and implementing relaxed parameters, such as The Tate, the Smithsonian and the V&A.
However a significant proportion of the conservation profession are not convinced that the risks in relaxing these parameters can be safely managed, a position best articulated by the National Gallery in London. Accordingly consensus amongst conservators internationally is not going to be achieved and therefore there will be no new blanket environmental standards.
This paper examines the current situation on this complex issue.