Built over the remains of a Roman bathhouse, The Novium Museum in Chichester, West Sussex, is home to a collection of over 500,000 objects telling the rich history of Chichester District. Items in the Novium’s collection include archaeological and geological objects, social history and photography – all of which must be kept in the correct conditions to ensure their chances of survival for years to come.
One of the main areas of conservation work at the Museum is the continuous monitoring of the museum environment. Unsuitable or unstable environmental conditions can cause historic materials to deteriorate, making it essential to ensure the Museum’s environment is monitored and appropriately regulated. Ideal conditions for the preservation of museum artefacts is a steady temperature of around 20°C and stable humidity levels of between 35-45% RH.
To monitor temperature and humidity levels inside object display cases The Novium Museum uses Tinytag View 2 TV-4501 temperature and relative humidity data loggers. The View 2 loggers have display screens for spot-checking (while also recording for the long-term) and come in discreet grey casing, making them ideal for use in a museum setting.
Taking recordings every three minutes, the loggers provide a comprehensive picture of the environment inside the cases. Data is downloaded once a month for review and analysis; if any unusual or concerning readings are discovered, action is taken to investigate the cause and remedy the issue. Evidence of fluctuating conditions inside a display case, for example, might indicate the need for new seals or the expiry of silica gel (used to regulate humidity).
The loggers are also occasionally used to monitor conditions in the exhibition rooms, as this can impact the environment inside display cases. This also helps the Museum to assess the performance of the building’s temperature and humidity control system, enabling them to identify if environmental problems are arising from faults in this system. Continuous long-term monitoring has also allowed the museum to provide evidence when making grant and loan applications.
“Without the use of Tinytags we would be unable to monitor our collections when on display or choose the correct objects for display in different parts of the gallery,” Portia Tremlett, public programme engagement officer for The Novium Museum.
“Tinytag data loggers are simple, easy to use, but very effective. They have enabled us to continue to care for our collections whilst on display and in storage, and allowed us to provide huge amounts of data to prospective museums who may lend objects for temporary exhibitions. Gemini Data Loggers as a company has always been extremely helpful and informative.”
The Novium Museum received a grant in June 2020 to allow them to upgrade their monitoring programme with the Tinytag Connect system, a remote radio- and LAN-enabled monitoring system. The Museum plans to utilise Tinytag Radio data loggers, which send data automatically to a central computer for immediate, real-time viewing – one of the key advantages of remote monitoring. The convenient, user-friendly system will help to save the museum valuable time and allow them to respond to problems as they arise.