Environmental Guidelines Project

Within the museum industry sustainable and affordable collection management practices have emerged as a leading priority for collecting and lending organisations. In recognition of this ICOM-CC and IIC published in 2014 the joint statement, Declaration on Environmental Guidelines. The AICCM Interim Temperature and Relative Humidity Guidelines for storage and display conditions was included as one of three appendices, the other two authored by the Bizot Group and AIC. Three years on, the joint declaration and its pronouncements on environmental conditions were further discussed and debated at the 2017 ICOM-CC conference in Copenhagen. While this ongoing conversation within the profession reflects community interest, it also demonstrates the practical difficulties experienced by practitioners and the complexity of establishing environmental parameters suitable for a variety of mixed collections and museum activities.

AICCM is continuing to work to define a position for the profession in Australia and has commenced the Environmental Guidelines Project, led by a sub-group of the Sustainable Collections Committee.


AICCM aims to develop an Environmental Guidelines Resource for the care of collections that reflects Australian cultural heritage practices and the country’s diverse climate zones, through a process of industry consultation and collective involvement. The purpose of the AICCM Environmental Guidelines Project is to draw together a wealth of Australian research into a resource base that will guide practitioners in making decisions about the management of collection environments for their cultural heritage organisation and collections. This resource base will promote Australian research and provide a context for the interpretation of relevant international standards, guidelines and research.


  1. To survey current collection environment practices carried out by Australia’s major commonwealth and state collecting and lending institutions, and the wider community of smaller state and local collecting organisations.
  2. To develop a resource base that promotes national collection environment guidelines, including the Heritage Collections Council – Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions (2002) and the AICCM Interim Temperature and Relative Humidity Guidelines for storage and display conditions (2014), with reference to location and climatic conditions; organisational purpose, function and activities; buildings and building fabric; and implementation.
  3. To develop collaborative opportunities for Australian cultural heritage organisations, professionals and students to participate in the research and development of collection environment resources that are relevant and fit for purpose for a diverse range of cultural heritage organisations and activities.
  4. To seek endorsement from peak bodies such as the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors (CAAMD), Council of Australian Museum Directors (CAMD), Museums Galleries Australia (MGA), and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to promote cooperation during the project, and recognition of the AICCM Environmental Guidelines Resource following ratification by the AICCM Council. 




  • Australian climate information – two main seasonal patterns (4 season pattern and wet / dry pattern).
  • Comparison between current seasonal patterns / climate zones and future predicted seasonal patterns / climate zones.
  • Australian museum statistical information.
  • Australian museum climate and material science research and publications.
  • Australian risk-assessment methodologies and case studies.
  • Complimentary international museum climate and material science research and publications.


  • Museum climate set-points survey targeting major Australian collecting and lending institutions. Will seek the support and endorsement of the Council of Australian Museum Directors for this survey. Aims are to:
    • Capture a picture of current climate set points for collection display, storage and loan,
    • Identify similarities and differences between major institutions,
    • Develop an understanding of current practices, initiatives, endeavours, and limitations experienced by major institutions,
    • Develop an information resource that will open up discussion on the topic of climate control and set points for major institutions,
    • Create an informed position for the ongoing development of realistic and applicable guidelines.
    • Museum climate control / monitoring and sustainable practices survey targeting the wider Australian museum community of smaller state and local organisations. Will seek support for this survey through Museums Galleries Australia and other museum networks. Aims are to:
      • Capture a picture of current Australian museum practices, monitoring regimes, and sustainable endeavours,
      • Identify main areas of interest in sustainable practices for smaller museums,
      • Understand how loans can be managed by smaller museums eg. negotiation on climate or micro-climates for loans, reconciling differences in the management of museum climate,
      • Investigate opportunities to develop Bachelor and Master’s thesis projects for conservation students to undertake through University of Melbourne and University of Canberra training programs.


  • Seek participation from AICCM members and museum practitioners in discussing museum climate projects that have been carried out (unpublished material).
  • Information will be gathered through survey, directed questionnaires, interview, and correspondence,
  • Communication and support for this activity will largely come from the AICCM Preventive SIG and museum networks,
  • Investigate opportunities to develop Bachelor and Master’s thesis projects for conservation students to undertake through University of Melbourne and University of Canberra training programs.


  • Communication with the membership, particularly in the case study phase, will be through the AICCM Preventive SIG. It is proposed that through the membership of this SIG (notably the SIG with the largest membership) the project will be communicated beyond the membership to smaller collecting organisations, particularly via members working in private practice.
  • A core support network of state representatives will be developed. This team of people will contribute to the project through specific knowledge and experience, and/or connection to the target networks.



  • Review and assess material drawn from the literature search, surveys and cases studies to:
  • Develop an understanding of current and future Australian climate patterns / zones,
  • Develop an understanding of current Australian museum practices,
  • Compile all relevant Australian museum resources in order to provide a national context and framework to the development of guidelines and resources
  • Draft and distribute information to participants of the surveys to provide a resource that encourages critical and constructive discourse.


  • Develop a comprehensive scope for the guidelines and resources.
  • Draft environmental guidelines including,
  • Integration and adaption of existing HCC and AICCM Interim guidelines
  • Subject the draft guidelines to peer review and comment
  • Develop draft resources to support the implementation of museum guidelines and sustainable practice.


  • With the assistance of the AICCM Preventive SIG and the Environmental Guidelines Project state representatives the draft guidelines and resources will be tested in a range of settings from major collecting institutions through to small local collecting organisations.
  • Feedback from this process will inform revisions and redrafting to ensure that the guidelines and resources meet range of needs for Australian museums.



  • This phase will concentrate on the delivery of information, systems of communication, and style of resources.
  • Following peer review of the Environmental Guidelines, that is part of the ‘Analysis, Development and Testing’ phase, the guidelines will be prepared for publication.
  • The information gathered and tested relevant to the supporting resources will be reviewed and drafted for publication. This will involve:
    • Investigation of suitable systems and formats for communication and use of the resources,
    • Consideration of ways in which the information and resources can be adapted for purpose.
    • Publication of Environmental Guidelines and resources in digital and print formats.
    • Seek endorsement for the AICCM Environmental Guidelines for Australian Museums from CAMD, CMC, MGA and other relevant cultural organisations.


The Environmental Guidelines Project team proposes to promote and invite comment on the development of the AICCM Environment Guidelines for Australian Museums throughout all stages of project.

Communication will include (but not be limited to):

  • AICCM wiki and quarterly newsletter through regular progress updates.
  • AICCM national conference, Collaborate, Connect, Conserve, November 2017, through the presentation of ‘Environmental Guidelines’ as part of the Gedenkschrift for Emeritus Professor Colin Pearson.
  • AICCM Bulletin, through submission of the paper ‘Environmental Guidelines – An Australian Perspective’ for peer review.
  • Museums Galleries Australia conference, Agents of Change, June 2018, through submissions of a plenary session paper and panel session.
  • AICCM national conference 2019, 10 Agents of Deterioration (in concept).

CONTACT: Amanda Pagliarino  amanda.pagliarino@qagoma.qld.gov.au