Maintaining high relative humidity with active and passive systems in large exhibition cases

Arthur Beale


In the past year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, both passive and active systems have been used to control relative humidity inside very large exhibit cases. The basic design details of these cases will be shown as well as the specific application of the humidity control systems to the cases.

The active system described utilizes a Kennedy-Trimnell Relative Humidity Control Module and the passive system uses the Arten Gel Modules produced by Art Preservation Services. A critical evaluation of these applications and a discussion of their limitations will be offered. The active system has been installed as a stop-gap measure to achieve 50% RH in an installation of the permanent Chinese collection which contains lacquerware in a space which is not yet climate controlled.

The passive system was initially used to achieve 60% RH in a climate controlled special exhibition gallery for a loan show of Japanese treasures principally made of organic materials. The passive system installed in large cases as well as some smaller ones required gasketing with various materials which will be described. The maintenance of both systems will be discussed in terms of the diverse external room environments in which the cases were installed.

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1991 | Albuquerque | Volume 1