Fishbourne Roman Palace & Gardens is the largest Roman home in Britain, constructed in AD75, and destroyed by fire in the late third century. After excavation began in 1960, it opened to the public in 1968 and the site features the largest collection of mosaics in situ in the UK along with recreated Roman gardens, the earliest gardens found anywhere in the country. In addition, the stores contain half a million artefacts.
Recently curator at the Palace, Rob Symmons needed to replace the former temperature and relative humidity environmental monitoring system, which was coming to the end of its useful life.
Four Tinytag Ultra 2 TGU-4500 temp/RH data loggers are already successfully used as a cost-effective solution in the North Wing, a large building housing the mosaic floors. Data is downloaded every three months for analysis. In addition a TGU-4500 is placed inside a sealed plastic box along with a silica gel bag – as used to house items in the ‘Sensitive’ Archive Store (primarily metalwork) – to replicate conditions inside the boxes.
For ambient monitoring in the Sensitive Store (which also houses the library) and the Bulk Store, and inside display cases in the Museum areas, an automatic data collection system was the preferred solution. In this way data from three individual large spaces could be sent directly to the Curator’s PC for immediate viewing, without having to download the loggers individually.
Gemini Data Loggers, manufacturer of the Tinytag range, proposed a combination of Plus Radio data loggers and Ethernet receivers as an effective, easy to use solution to meet the layout requirements of the three monitoring areas. A combination of four Ultra Radio TR-3500 temp/RH loggers, two Plus Radio ACSRF-4040 Ethernet Receivers, and three Ultra Radio TR-3505 loggers were supplied. The TR-3505 units have an accompanying temp/RH probe, which has been placed inside sealed display cases in the Museum. Data is analysed once a week. The aim is to gather a year’s worth of data to establish the pattern of environmental conditions over time. It is hoped that this data can also be used to tie in with seasonal patterns of any pest problems (mainly insects).
Recorded data in the Sensitive Store is used to determine if the dehumidifier needs to be used (it has been accurate enough to even show door openings). This is particularly important as some space is rented to another museum who need to verify conditions are correct for their own Accreditation purposes.
In the Bulk Store which houses more robust materials such as pottery and stone, recorded data can be used to adjust the ventilation controls, which allow warm or fresh air to be circulated as required. Results from the probed loggers in the museum cases, primarily containing sensitive metal items, have shown that conditions are reasonably stable, and also provide an indication of how effectively the case is providing protection from the environment.
The Tinytag Connect Radio/LAN system is ideal for discreet monitoring in museums and galleries, and can be configured to include both types of units to suit site layout and network infrastructure. Automatic data collection conveniently allows immediate access to the information required to assess if conditions need to be modified to ensure the wellbeing of collections and archives.