Thursday, November 8, 2012

Environmental Guidelines for Museums - the latest

'Climate for Collections' is the title of the conference I am currently attending at the Doerner Institute in Munich. Part of the 4 million Euro Climate for Culture, the conference is seeking to establish consensus amongst conservators about the levels to which environmental standards in museums and galleries can be relaxed. I have previously blogged about this vexed question. 

And boy is it vexed! I had imagined (I now realise somewhat naively) that I was coming to a meeting where we would be in general agreement on the sustainability and economic need to relax these standards within carefully defined guidelines.  

What I have walked into is a major reaction to the Bizot Group (of museum directors) push to make these relaxed standards become a reality. The German conservators in particular are fiercely resistant to any relaxation and see the Bizot push as being all about making loans more easily available between themselves. So the National Gallery's view on this (see previous blog) is more widely supported than I had realised.

All will come to a head on Friday when we vote individually where we stand with coloured cards ( red against the Bizot push, yellow for undecided and green for support).

My personal view is this is missing the point.  Let's ignore what the Bizot motives might be. As conservators we are in a prime position to lead in this discussion which more and more is being driven by skyrocketing energy prices more than the morality of sustainability. We understand the ability of materials to cope or not to indoor climate fluctuations, the various damage functions, and the opportunities that exist to play with HVAC systems.

More very soon after Friday's vote!  

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