Using Temperature and Humidity Loggers in Bury Art Gallery

The Bury Art Gallery was designed specifically to house an extensive art collection left to the town by local industrialist Thomas Wrigley. This included works by renowned painters, Turner and Constable.

It opened in 1901. Six years later, the collection was extended again and a museum was opened at the same location. Nearly a century later, in 2005, Bury’s Archive Services were relocated there and the gallery enjoyed an extensive refurbishment. Today, Bury Art Gallery, Museum and Archive provides the people of the town and visitors to the area a vast collection of art, local artifacts and document archives.

Alison Green, Museum Assistant, recognizes the importance the museum plays in recording Bury’s past. One of her responsibilities is ensuring that all of the exhibits in the collection are well-preserved.

It’s taken over a hundred years to build up this collection and its value, historically and socially, is enormous. It’s very important we monitor the environment in which the collections are housed. Exposure to extremes of heat, cold, aridity or humidity can cause textiles, canvas, wood and other materials to deteriorate quickly.

Alison Green, Museum Assistant, Bury Art Gallery

EL-USB-2

EL-USB-2

However, this is a complex task; different display cases have different requirements for the appropriate temperature of storage, even when they’re located in the same room.

Individual display cases have a different environment to the room they sit in. Our two storage facilities and the gallery are different again. And the perfect environment for a one hundred-year-old painting might be different than the ideal environment for a fifty-year-old army uniform.

Alison Green, Museum Assistant, Bury Art Gallery

Searching for solutions, she found Lascar Electronics who manufacture a USB data logger which can record temperature and humidity over an extended period. “This is a great product,” says Alison. “I can simply plug it into my computer’s USB port, give it a name, set some alarms and choose a sampling rate – in our case once a minute. When it’s programmed, it’s small enough that I can pop it back into a case without it taking over the display and away it goes measuring temperature and humidity levels. When the logger is full of data or I see an alarm level has been reached because its red alarm light is flashing, I take it back to the computer and download all the recordings to see what environment our exhibits have been exposed to. It’s not just in the best interest of the exhibits - we’re a publicly funded organization and we have to actually prove we’re looking after everything in the museum.”

Exhibits can be sensitive to subtle changes in the environment, such as those caused by the 2005 refurbishment; temperature and humidity levels fluctuate due to the seasons, the changing structure of the building, and even the presence of visitors at the gallery. “We’ve always measured these parameters,” explains Alison. “Before finding the USB logger, we used chart recorders exclusively. They’re bulky and pretty expensive but they are accurate. Knowing that we were seeing some changes in the museum’s atmosphere, it was very important any replacement was just as accurate.”

Now that the center is more important than ever – a hub for tourists and local researchers alike, with multiple responsibilities to preserve fine artworks, museum exhibits, and a records archive – they need the latest technology. Alison notes that the data logger is affordable for their requirements, “We are a small, regional museum and like most museums we certainly don’t have a large pot to dip into for things like data loggers. Whilst we don’t have as many as I’d like yet, they do an excellent job in a very important aspect of our work. A museum is its exhibits – and their preservation will make sure we are around for the next hundred years.”

Lascar Electronics

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Lascar Electronics.

For more information on this source, please visit Lascar Electronics.

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