Guideline 8.2

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Back to STANDARD 8: Exhibit Conservation Requirements

Guideline 8.2:
Conservation Requirements are established for each new exhibit and address the needs of each exhibit object.

Why should Conservation Requirements be established for each object?

The material components of exhibit objects are as diverse as museum exhibits themselves. Because objects vary one from another in their material composition they also vary in their response to environmental conditions and the rate at which they deteriorate. In an exhibit of religious icons, excessive light levels will do little harm to stone icons but could quickly damage the decorative surface of a polychrome wooden carving. Even seemingly similar objects could nonetheless possess very different vulnerabilities and suffer different rates of deterioration due to slight differences in their manufacture and processing. For example, the way a metal object was worked and the specific percentage of alloy in its composition, and the particular binder used with pigments in a painting will affect the deterioration rates of those objects.

Why should Conservation Requirements be established for each new exhibit?

Even within the same building, conditions will vary from one exhibit area to the next. One gallery or exhibit space may have windows and exterior walls with higher levels of light and greater fluctuations in temperature and humidity than another. And the exhibit plan itself could propose greater numbers of visitors, a longer exhibit duration, or more hands-on contact with objects than a previous exhibit.
Therefore, if preservation criteria are to be effective, they must provide conservation recommendations that are specific to each new exhibit. And a conservator should examine each object, the proposed exhibit location and the object’s curatorial value to the collections to determine its particular conservation requirements.