Museums USA

Indianapolis relaxes climate controls

Leading directors have been questioning the scientific validity—and cost—of running air conditioning to the current standard specification

LONDON. The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has come off the “gold standard” of museum environmental control in a unilateral move made without fanfare in February.

The internationally observed standard is a temperature range of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius and relative humidity between 40 and 50 per cent, which is also a standard condition for loans. The IMA will allow the range of its exhibition gallery’s temperature and relative humidity to fluctuate by a few degrees on either side of the standard.

Director Maxwell Anderson said: “We sent letters to every lender current and future to alert them, and gave them an opportunity to withdraw commitments to lend. Not one has signalled their intent to do so.”

The Bizot Group of directors of the world’s leading museums have been discussing such a revision for two years, questioning the scientific validity—and cost—of running mechanical air conditioning to the standard specification.

Mark Jones, the director of the V&A in London and a member of the Bizot Group, said: “As museums understand better how to look after works of art they should be able to reduce their carbon footprint and relax the environmental controls while continuing to safeguard the objects in their care.” Any relaxation would alter the design and construction of new museum buildings, and the renovation of existing ones.

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