For many years, museums and galleries have been monitored by conservationists who sought to prevent damage to fine art caused by humidity and temperature changes. As a result, museums have kept everything at approximately 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and 55 per cent relative humidity. This has been helped with mechanical air-conditioning, heating and ventilating systems. So, why is it so important to consider the temperature and relative humidity of a room where fine art is being stored?
Growth of mould and fungi
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air which, if too high, can cause the growth of mould and fungi on fine art. Generally, mould growth occurs when the relative humidity of the room exceeds 70 per cent. Mould and fungi both cause irreversible damage to art which in turn lessens the value of your pieces.
Swelling of materials
The changes in moisture levels in the air can also cause the materials used in fine art to swell, shrink and move. Different materials respond differently to humidity and temperature changes as some change to adjust to their environment. This type of change caused by humidity is referred to as dimensional change and can include warping, dislocation of joints, splitting, breaking and cracking, and loss of surface material.
Fine art can also have a chemical reaction caused by high relative humidity levels. These affects can include corrosion of metals, fading of dyes, weeping or clouding of glass, and yellowing of paper. This kind of damage cannot always be reversed and can have lasting effects on the value of the fine art.
If temperatures are too high in the room or if the box that art is being stored in climb, it can cause some of the materials to sweat. This sweat can cause colours to run and materials to warp. Museums and galleries combat these affects by not placing their art in direct view of sunlight or under the direct heat of globes.
It’s clear that the humidity and temperatures of the room fine art is being stored in can seriously affect your fine art. Don’t just sit around and let your art lose value. Grace Fine Art provide professional quality storage with climate control and state-of-the-art security measures that are up to the museum and gallery standards. Get in touch with us to discuss your fine art storage.