They are sensitive and must therefore be particularly carefully protected against outside influences: Many exhibits in museums are susceptible to cold, heat, humidity, dust or light and suffer irreparable damage as a result. The protection of exhibits is therefore of immense importance in order to preserve them for posterity. The objects must be carefully protected against all dangers from the environment. Physical security and monitoring of critical parameters is a major issue for museums and exhibitions.
Environmental monitoring to protect the exhibits
A museum is not only a place for history, art and culture, but also a hoard of valuable exhibits for future generations. Many of these exhibits are often extremely sensitive and react susceptibly to external influences such as temperature, humidity or light. Therefore, reliable monitoring of these factors is needed. This prevents damage and creates optimal conditions for the exhibits.
Why should museums monitor environmental conditions?
Here are the five most important reasons why monitoring climate factors is so important for museum objects:
- Prevention of damage: Fluctuations in climate and extreme conditions permanently damage sensitive pieces such as historical artefacts, paintings, textiles or archaeological finds. Temperatures that are too high or too low, high humidity, exposure to light or fluctuations in these parameters cause, for example, cracks, deformation, mould and fading. Permanent monitoring detects critical conditions at an early stage and provides sufficient time for countermeasures.
- Compliance with insurance requirements: Many insurance companies have special requirements for monitoring and safety. Therefore, regular monitoring of climate factors and documentation of data are often a condition for making claims in the event of damage.
- Preservation of cultural heritage: Most objects in museums are unique and invaluable testimonies of history, culture and science. Proper monitoring and conservation of these exhibits preserves the cultural heritage for future generations.
- Scientific research: Research also benefits from the monitoring of climate factors in museums. This provides valuable data for research. For example, the reaction of materials to different environmental conditions or the long-term effect of certain factors on exhibits.
- Timely intervention: With reliable monitoring, museum staff react in time to potential problems before damage occurs.
What does the monitoring of exhibits look like in concrete terms?
Museums, galleries as well as exhibitions have various possibilities to do this. Modern technologies collect data precisely and control the conditions in the exhibition closely. Methods to ensure effective monitoring include the following in particular:
- Data loggers and sensors: These are small electronic devices that continuously collect data on temperature, humidity, light and air quality. They record this information and send it to a central system. The system analyses and evaluates the data.
- Climate monitoring systems: Museums often rely on specialised climate monitoring systems that consist of a combination of data loggers, sensors and a central control system. These systems provide real-time data. This enables remote monitoring of the exhibition rooms. If critical values are exceeded, staff are informed immediately.
- Handheld devices: For regular monitoring, there are portable devices for on-site measurements. These check the environmental conditions at various locations in the museum.
- Imaging techniques: Sometimes imaging techniques such as infrared thermography are necessary. These detect temperature differences and damp areas on the surfaces of objects. This helps to identify hidden damage or uneven climate conditions.
- Regular inspection and logs: It is important that museum staff regularly check and record climate data to identify trends and changes. By recording the data, long-term changes and potential problems are more easily detected.
Mining Museum Bochum finds optimal solution for its objects
The German Mining Museum in Bochum also houses numerous exhibits that are very sensitive. The insurance company has imposed a requirement on the museum to protect them with regard to the parameters of temperature and humidity – and to do so in a verifiable manner. This requires a reliable monitoring solution. This must deliver precise data, record it and – according to the museum’s wishes – be as easy to install as possible. The existing system in the museum did not meet the new requirements. It also required costly and complex cabling. The museum’s IT team therefore opted for the IoT-based solution from Kentix. This convinced them with its modular design. The installation of the system proved to be very simple, as the devices could be mounted and implemented without any problems. Only in a few places was a LAN infrastructure required for the MultiSensors.
Kentix has completely replaced the old surveillance solution in the museum. Each hall now has a MultiSensor LAN-RF in a central location. Among other things, this monitors humidity and ambient temperature – important parameters to guarantee optimal conditions for the exhibits. In addition, several MultiSensorDOOR were placed near the sensitive objects to monitor their condition. These smaller devices also register whether (showcase) doors are open or closed. With changing objects and exhibitions, the sensors are distributed flexibly and efficiently. A total of over 50 MultiSensors are in use here.
The MultiSensor: numerous functions in one device
The MultiSensor convinced the museum with its multiple features combined in just one device:
- Versatile detection of climate factors: the Kentix MultiSensor monitors several climate factors simultaneously, including temperature, humidity, air quality (e.g. CO2 concentration) and air pressure. This comprehensive detection allows museums to keep track of all important environmental parameters that are crucial for the preservation of their exhibits. Depending on the model, the MultiSensor even detects impending fires long in advance (more on early fire detection).
- Easy installation: The MultiSensor from Kentix is easy to mount on walls or ceilings, allowing for simple and flexible installation. Wireless connectivity makes it easy to set up and integrate with existing surveillance systems.
Real-time monitoring and notifications: The MultiSensor continuously provides real-time data via its sensors. When predefined limits for temperature, humidity or other parameters are exceeded, the system automatically sends alerts or alarms via email or push SMS. In this way, museum staff are immediately informed about critical conditions.
- Compact design: The Kentix MultiSensor is housed in a compact enclosure that integrates discreetly into the environment without detracting from the aesthetics of the exhibition rooms.
- Remote monitoring: By networking the sensors, museums manage and monitor their systems centrally. This enables convenient remote monitoring and control from different locations.
- Expandability: The MultiSensor can be expanded and combined with all other devices from Kentix. This creates a comprehensive security and monitoring system for the entire museum.
Comprehensive monitoring of museum objects is simple and straightforward
Even if the origin – quasi the home of Kentix – lies in the server room and its monitoring, the possibilities opened up by IoT technology are almost limitless. The monitoring solution is used practically everywhere where environmental conditions need to be monitored or access needs to be controlled and regulated. The example of the German Mining Museum in Bochum is an impressive demonstration of the wide range of possible applications for Kentix monitoring solutions.