An important element in the long term survival of a museum collection is the environment they are kept in both for storage and display.
Sensors are set up in the galleries and stores to monitor the relative humidity and temperature. It is important for the objects that the moisture in the air is kept at a constant level to prevent expansion and contraction of the materials. A high moisture level will increase levels of corrosion and cause mould growth whilst low levels will cause organic materials to become brittle and crack.
The UV content of light damages objects. It not only fades colours but can destroy the structure of materials such as textiles, leather, paper and lacquer. Maintaining low light levels helps preserve the collection.
Air pollution can be a problem from sources such as car exhaust fumes, power stations, industry and even humans! We use filters to remove both gases and particles.
Insects cause damage to organic materials. New objects coming into the museum are held in a quarantine zone until they are checked and if necessary treated for insect infestations. Only if they are clear will they be allowed into contact with the rest of the collection. To monitor the collection traps are placed round the museum to alert us a problem arises.