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Friday, May 30 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
(Exploring Sustainable Preservation Environments Session) Sustainability And Environmental Control For The Conservation Of The Collections At The Bahia Sacred Art Museum

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When it comes to museums and collections the idea of sustainability should cover actions ranging such as selecting materials using renewable raw materials, and/or low energy consuming materials for their manufacture, rationalization and reuse of materials and supplies for packaging and storage of the collection, its maintenance, safety and continuous preventive conservation. The studies presented in this paper were carried out in the Sacred Art Museum of the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) complying with the recommendations from the Conservation Assessment. This assessment, undertaken to guarantee the conservation of collections in hot and humid climates, was held in 1998 in a concerted technical cooperation action among UFBA, The Getty Conservation Institute, CECOR/ UFMG and VITAE – Support to Culture, Education and Social Promotion.

Among the projects carried out we highlight those with environmental adaptation which comprised three different objectives: the treatment of exhibiting halls, the increase of the thermal comfort of the nave of the church, and the environmental control for preventive conservation of the collections storage area. In the exhibition halls three specific and complementary actions were carried out aiming to correct natural lighting conditions of the displayed collection by inserting elements of control in the window openings to block the direct solar radiation and filter the diffuse solar radiation.

In addition, to ensure natural ventilation in the exhibition halls, the system allowed natural light into the halls, thus reducing the use of artificial lighting. A new system of artificial lighting was also implemented, controlled with the help of motion sensors and rationalization of the lamp power, thus ensuring energy saving and conservation of the collection by decreasing the time/lux on the displayed pieces. This also contributed as reduction elements of specific degradation processes in light-sensitive works of art such as polychrome items.

Another action carried out was the development of a mixed ventilation system, both passive and mechanical, aiming to ensure thermal comfort for visitors by decreasing sensation of heat and increasing ventilation; this has also contributed to increase evaporation by convection, allowing the reduction of the moisture content of the air inside the rooms, assisting in preventive conservation of displayed collections.

Also, another step addressed the improvement of environmental quality within the nave of the Santa Tereza Church, creating a passive system of ventilation, by pressure difference, or chimney effect, through the eight round window openings existing in the dome of the transept of the nave, which is still aided by the eight windows surrounding the observation tower that covers it. The proposed passive ventilation aimed at modifying the conditions of the relative humidity, excessive inside the nave and the walls of the altars, as well as providing better environmental conditions for human comfort during events which are held there.

The third proposal relates to the environmental control developed for the implementation of the new Storage Room making use of passive and mechanical conditioning, by taking advantage of the construction. The major points of leakage and thermal gains were addressed, that is, ceilings, doors and windows. Also some routines were established in order to take advantage of the external environmental conditions in case they were favorable, or otherwise its blockage, in addition to the interspersed use of ventilation and / or mechanical dehumidification to ensure environmental levels recommended to a preventive conservation of the collection.

Additionally the whole system of packaging and storage of the collection was carried out within the most rigorous methods of rationalization and reuse of materials.

Session Moderator(s)
avatar for Michael C. Henry

Michael C. Henry

Architect/Engineer, Watson & Henry Associates
Michael C. Henry, PE, AIA, is Principal Engineer/Architect with Watson & Henry Associates. He consults on sustainable environmental management and building envelope performance for preventive conservation of museum collections. He consults throughout the United States and in Cuba... Read More →

avatar for Griselda Kluppel

Griselda Kluppel

Assistant professor, Federal University of Bahia
Graduated in Architecture and Doctor in Architecture and Urbanism with a focus on Conservation and Restoration at the Federal University of Bahia, is also a specialist on Environmental Design. Since 1998 has been working directly on preventive conservation of buildings and collections... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 4:00pm - 4:20pm PDT