The 3 Biggest Threats to Artwork Preservation

The 3 Biggest Threats to Artwork Preservation

The longer you fix your eyes on a painting, the more it reveals about itself and the artist.

There is also a chance it reveals something else - the condition it is being kept in. Art gallery managers that don’t keep a close eye on the environmental setting can suffer severe consequences. But through the use of careful monitoring using Testo’s 160 THL, personnel can quickly respond to any changes and preserve the integrity of the artwork.

Here are the three main environmental conditions to keep an eye on:

1. Humidity

In order to support the longevity of paintings, stability is key. Gallery managers should aim to keep native humidity levels (RH) in both showrooms and storage at 50%, as well as avoiding anything over 3% deviation.

The by-product of not constantly measuring the conditions in which artwork is kept is the continuous expansion and contraction of canvas. In the case in which this is left unchecked, art galleries will quickly find out that many of the paintings stored there will fall into disrepair.

2. Temperature

Art galleries must maintain a closely controlled climate. Whether storing or showcasing, 20 degrees Celsius is usually an acceptable level. The threshold for fluctuation is minimal as anything 1 degree Celsius above or below can immediately trigger deterioration.

Because any paintings contain organic compounds, changes in temperature will indirectly affect them. They can essentially speed up degeneration caused by inconsistencies in RH, as well as contribute to the growth of fungus or mould.

3. Lux Levels

Every art gallery uses lighting to portray artwork in the manner it was originally intended to be shown. However, sometimes it can shine a little too brightly. It is recommended to limit exposure to light as much as possible. When it is necessary, artwork should be displayed in areas with under 50 lux.

Light and the associated ultraviolet radiation (UV) are capable of causing chemical imbalances in the colouring of the artwork. Over time, this degrades the artwork’s quality. Because many paintings were created with palettes that are no longer available, this can render the authenticity of the artwork useless and pose a problem for preservationists.

The Testo 160 THL constantly monitors the environment with internal humidity, temperature, lux and UV sensors. These sensors log the data of their surroundings at a set time. Any fluctuations are reported immediately through text or email. This allows the correct personnel to respond quickly and fix the issue. For more information about our range of temperature, humidity and lux sensors, get in contact with the team at Testo NZ today.