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Friday, May 30 • 2:10pm - 2:30pm
(Exploring Sustainable Preservation Environments Session) Climate and Conflict – the complex question of environmental conditions in museums

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The issue of sustainable environmental standards and guidelines for museums and galleries has created some divisions in the international conservation community. This paper will examine how this has come about, the background to the positions being taken, whether there really is substantial disagreement, and what can be done to move the profession forward. It will report on the latest work by the joint IIC and ICOM-CC working group on the question of broadening parameters for environmental conditions in museums.

Environmental parameters for museums have been under discussion by the conservation community for at least the last five years, promoted by conservators, building managers and directors alike. Two years ago it looked as though international agreement on the broadening of environmental conditions in museums and galleries to reduce energy consumption, whilst not compromising the preservation of collections, was close. The current reality however is that agreement is still a long way off, due to strongly held and often polarised views within the conservation profession.

It is acknowledged by many conservators and conservation scientists 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). Major museums and galleries worldwide are recognising this, and institutions such as The Tate, the Smithsonian and the V&A are implementing broader parameters.

However a significant proportion of the conservation profession is not convinced that the risks associated with this change can be safely managed, a position best articulated by the National Gallery in London. Accordingly, consensus amongst conservators internationally is not being achieved.

The paper will include discussion on PAS 198, the UK’s Specification for managing environmental conditions for cultural collections. It will look at how conservators can engage in more effective dialogue with building managers on achieving substantial energy savings without major capital investment and without sacrificing preservation quality, whilst safely managing any associated risks to collections. It will also discuss the opportunities for more research on sensitive materials, on microclimate cases, and on how systems can be designed and operated to meet the needs of specific collections.

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 Julian Bickersteth

Julian Bickersteth

Managing Director, International Conservation Services
Julian Bickersteth is the Managing Director of International Conservation Services, Australia’s largest private fine arts conservation business, and a Vice President of the International Institute for Conservation. A furniture conservator by training, he has a particular interest... Read More →


Jerry Podany

Senior Conservator of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum
Jerry Podany is the Senior Conservator of Antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum. From 1999 – 2003 he served as President of AIC and  from 2006 to 2012 served  as President of IIC. He is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was awarded the Rutherford... Read More →
avatar for Richard Kerschner

Richard Kerschner

Principal, Kerschner Museum Conservation Services
Richard Kerschner is the principal of Kerschner Museum Conservation Services, LLC. He has extensive experience in preventive conservation and conservation project management and is recognized nationally for his expertise in practical and sustainable environmental control for museums... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 2:10pm - 2:30pm PDT