Smart Environmental Monitoring Protects Museum Collections

Long range sensors monitor environmental conditions, so museums can protect priceless artwork, artifacts, and historical papers from deteriorating. Some technologies even allow museums to mine their warehouses to maintain better inventory and to create digital exhibits.

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Image credit: Gemini Data Loggers TinyTag at the University College London museum

Heat and humidity can destroy priceless works of art. The wrong temperature and moisture levels can melt or crack paint and dyes, encourage mold growth, and cause metal, wood, and canvas to swell, shrink, or warp. In humid environments, water vapor can corrode metals and ruin canvases.

To protect their works of art from environmental damage, museums are investing in on-premises condition monitoring systems, like those from Gemini Data Loggers and Robotron.

Tiny but Mighty Monitors

U.K.-based Gemini Data Loggers uses Tinytag devices to monitor a range of temperature and humidity levels. The tags can be placed indoors, outdoors, or submerged underwater. The company also makes Tinytags to monitor carbon dioxide, energy, and AC/DC currents.

Each Tinytag is configured through the Tinytag Explorer Connect software. Integrators can assign each tag to a location and establish the frequency of its readings. It supports radio and LAN data loggers on one system and enables automatic data collection and real-time access to that data.

The software provides a visual representation of the deployed system. Curators can download and view the recorded data in multiple formats, including spreadsheets and dashboards. Explorer Connect is sold through a site license, so multiple locations can be supported.

Robotron LoRa wireless Sensor

Image credit: Robotron

Smart Sensors and More

The web-based Robotron*SmartMonitoring system uses long-range wireless sensors and gateways to monitor temperature, humidity, light intensity, and carbon dioxide. Integrators can define target values, reading intervals, and groupings for each tag. If readings fall outside the user-defined thresholds, an alert can be sent to the curator.

The sensors work with the Robotron*Daphne software. Sensor data is collected, encrypted, and transmitted to a central database. Curators can view the data on customizable diagrams, dashboards, and reports through a simple Internet connection.

The system can be implemented without structural changes, which makes it attractive to historical and protected buildings. The sensor signals can be transmitted through building walls and floors up to 2 kilometers in urban areas and 15 kilometers or more in open terrain. The gateways can bundle data from as many as 1,000 sensors.

Robotron*SmartMonitoring dashboard

Image credit: Robotron

Collection Management and Online Exhibitions

The Robotron*Daphne software offers additional capabilities, too. It allows curators to record and manage large art collections in a database. Using special tags or data sets, the catalog can be subdivided by a variety of object types that allow curators to plan and stage collections effectively for in-person or online exhibits.

Changes to an entire field or subset can be made to groups with a single click. Robotron*Daphne can group and track loans to and from other institutions, including transportation, restoration, costs, and loan agreements. It maintains restoration and research information and supports geolocation, so the curator can quickly locate the items it needs. The Robotron database technology also is applicable to other industries, including energy and manufacturing.

Using Robotron*Daphne curators can upload images, photos, and videos, which can be linked to other images, videos, or audio files. Curators can add comments about each piece to inform patrons or other museums about each work, enabling patrons to use a personal smartphone as a museum or exhibit guide. The selected artwork and related information can be tailored to a specific theme and changed on the fly as exhibits change. It also allows museums to offer virtual exhibitions.

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