Guideline 8.3

From Wiki

Back to Main Catalogs Page
Back to Exhibition Standards & Guidelines Table of Contents
Back to complete list of Exhibit Planning Phase standards
Back to STANDARD 8: Exhibit Conservation Requirements


Guideline 8.3:
The Conservation Requirements are feasible and practical.



What are appropriate conservation goals for the Conservation Requirements?

Integrating the Conservation Requirements into the exhibit design and plan requires time and expense. The recommended levels of protection from potential exhibit hazards should therefore be realistic and justifiable. The Conservation Requirements should not automatically call for the most stringent possible safeguards or ideal conditions. Rather, they should recommend preservation levels that will afford the objects sufficient protection given the particular exhibit proposal and exhibit environment. For example, less stringent safeguards may be required for a textile that is to be exhibited in a museum located in a moderate climate zone than if it were to be displayed in a museum on the coast with exposure to humid, salty sea air. Similarly, more protection will be required for a multi-year exhibit than a display of only a few months’ duration.


What data do the assessments and the exhibit plan provide that can help set practical Conservation Requirements?

A conservator can tailor the Requirements to the particular context of an exhibit by using information from the documents that describe specific aspects of that exhibit: the Object Condition Assessment, Object Significance Assessment, and the Location Assessments. These findings, together with the exhibit plan, provide information about the variables of exhibit conditions and the objects themselves.


Assessment of the Vulnerability and Condition of each object
This assessment provides essential information concerning the vulnerability of each object to the various hazards of display: the ten causes or agents of deterioration (see STANDARD 6).
The assessment is further refined when the conservator takes into account the object’s current condition in order to determine its susceptibility to further harm. For example, a fugitive dyed textile in pristine condition may be very susceptible to fading and require optimum safeguards, while a severely faded yet stable dyed textile may not be in much danger of additional fading.


The Exhibit Plan::The exhibit plan will inform the conservator of specific demands the exhibit will make upon collection objects. For example:
• How long objects will remain on display
• Whether the exhibit will travel
• Whether collections from other institutions will be used and whether there will be outside preservation loan requirements
• What personnel and financial resources are available for the design, construction, installation, and maintenance of the exhibit
• What optional locations are available for the exhibition and how each of these will impact security, lighting, and other conservation issues
• What geographic and climatic region will be involved and what environmental conditions are likely
• Whether particular requirements for the exhibit will affect object conservation such as open display for most objects. Special populations, such as the sight-impaired, may require special contact with collections
• Whether objects can be replicated, or reproductions used; and whether objects can be rotated or substituted.


Exhibit Location Assessment
This assessment provides a profile of the exhibit location, the types of hazards present and their severity (See STANDARD 7). It therefore informs the exhibit conservator of potential threats or complicating effects the site may have upon the selected objects’ vulnerabilities. The information ideally should include:
• Structural hazards such as overhead pipes, cramped spaces and exterior walls, etc.
• Hazard monitoring, detection, and control systems
• Ambient air quality (particulates and contaminants)
• Ambient climatic conditions (temperature and relative humidity levels) and rates of fluctuation throughout the year
• Ambient level of pest activity


Assessment of the significance and value of each object selected for exhibit
The curator or exhibit planner will assess the level of an object’s significance and value within the museum collection (See STANDARD 5, Guideline 5.2).
• The object’s value will help to determine the object’s security requirements
• It will also help determine how much protection from potential hazards the object merits


Comprehensive Assessments (if available): If a comprehensive assessment, such as a Fire, Security or Risk Assessment, was performed, this will provide detailed information on the level of threat from a specific source. (See STANDARD 7, Guideline 7.3)



How to combine assessment data to create Conservation Requirements

The conservator can factor together the findings from the exhibit plan and each of the assessments to create preservation requirements that are commensurate with the realities of the exhibit plan and location:
• First, the conservator determines the object’s current vulnerabilities to each hazard. For example, the object might be assessed as being at high risk to exposure to light. (See STANDARD 6)
• The conservator then determines what level of protection is required given the specific exhibit location and exhibit plan. The conservator may decide, for example, that despite the object’s potential vulnerability to light, the site and plan will not expose the object to damaging amounts of light radiation: The proposed gallery has incandescent lighting (low ultraviolet radiation) on dimmers, and there are no plans for the exhibit to travel to other locations. Stringent safeguards will not need to be incorporated into the exhibit design. On the other hand, if the exhibit space were filled with natural light, robust protection will be required. Exhibit design could utilize light dimmers and screens to minimize lighting exposure.
• The conservator will also consider the object’s assessed value to the collection. The degree to which costly safeguards or stringent measures are taken is also tied to the level of significance an object has within the overall collection. For example, an object may be assessed as vulnerable to light and at some risk of exposure at the exhibit location, yet the conservator may not recommend costly safeguards because of the object’s low significance. (See STANDARD 5, Guideline 5.2)
By thus combining the information from all the assessments and the exhibit plan the conservator can tailor conservation requirements to target the actual hazards objects will be exposed to and better pinpoint the level of intervention that is merited.



When might the Conservation Requirements require revisions?

The exhibit conservator may need to make revisions to the conservation requirements following any changes in the exhibit plan, exhibit design, or re-selection of objects.