How Museums are Preserving Masterpieces

It’s 21st century technology to the rescue!

Whether it’s a Monet or a Ming Dynasty vase, museums play an important role in preserving cultural heritage. 

Maintaining the perfect conditions for these treasures takes many factors into consideration. Here are a few examples:


San Diego Natural History Museum, United States 
Museum
What: Exhibits everything from precious gems to dinosaurs to presentations on the human genome. The facility averages more than 800 daily visitors and has office space for its 80 employees.
Goal: Precise climate control in key exhibit areas, energy efficiency to gain, and integrate systems to a common platform to access energy management data.
How: Using our web-enabled building management systems, they integrated existing systems into a single interface and generated energy savings, improved building management, and reduced maintenance costs. The museum was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance Certification.

Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan 
Museum

What: This palace museum exhibits a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. Its newly opened southern branch is designated as the Asian Art and Culture Museum striving to interpret and exhibit the cultural concepts and artistic accomplishments of Asia. 
Goal: Smart fire emergency detection, central management and evacuation, ensuring a risk-free exhibition environment 
How: Fire emergency detection and evacuation are extremely critical in a museum. The museum installed a Honeywell NOTIFIER fire alarm system, which easily provides system integration with the lowest operation costs and allows customization for the museum’s future needs. It's paired with another system that helps with evacuations by emitting a distinct sound (like white noise) that can be heard across all frequencies of the human hearing range and does not conflict with traditional fire alarm audible devices. It can guide visitors and staff to the nearest exit, reducing evacuation times in a museum by up to 75 percent. 

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Spain
Museum

What: Opened in 1992, it has more than 1,000 works of art, collected over seven decades and exhibited over 24,000 square meters. The collection presents works from Italian masters to experimental avant-garde and pop art. 
Goal: Modernize the air conditioning system to preserve works of art, ensure the comfort of visitors and save energy and costs. 
How: By implementing an intelligent monitoring program and updating the system, the museum saved nearly 30 percent on energy consumption and reduced costs by 28 percent, balancing rises in energy prices.

Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand
Museum

What: A war memorial and museum that exhibits New Zealand history, natural history as well as military history. With more than 900,000 visitors per year, this is New Zealand’s favorite building and a major tourist attraction. 
Goal: Reduce energy usage and support the Auckland Council’s environmental sustainability strategies and create optimized temperature for the display and storage of invaluable artefacts. 
How: An enterprise-wide control of the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and mechanical systems through Enterprise Buildings Integrator enabled the museum to have greater control, and the ability to make continual improvements to their environment. Alongside a control system strategy review, this also lowered the risk of damage to artefacts and art and enabling streamlined processes and operational efficiency, resulting in 50 percent reduction in carbon footprint over three years and $350,000 NZD (around $250,000 USD) reduction in annual energy costs. 

Forbidden City, China
How Museums are Preserving their Masterpieces

What: A palace complex in central Beijing, China, that houses the art collections of the Palace Museum, from the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is considered a living history of Chinese culture for over 1000 years.
Goal: Protect irreplaceable national treasures and works of art from fire.
How: They used Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) system that is hundreds of times more sensitive than a traditional point detector. Even when smoke has been diluted by a draught blowing through the building, or by air conditioning, it will be detected and an alarm is raised. Adjustable alarm levels allow the elimination of nuisance alarms, which is especially important in these public areas to prevent unnecessary panic among visitors.


Swetha Mahesh

Honeywell Home and Building Technologies