Rushden Transport Museum in Northamptonshire is uniquely situated in the Victorian-era Rushden Station. Housing a large collection of items relating to the history of road and rail transport, as well as the social history of the local area, the old station building and the Museum’s storage – a nearby port-a-cabin – are enigmatic surroundings for such collections – but are not ideal environments for displaying and storing sensitive museum collections.
The Museum's collection includes items made from paper,
textiles, metal, wood, ceramics and leather, all of which are
vulnerable to environmental conditions, including unsuitable or
unstable levels of temperature and relative humidity, which can
arise in old or poorly insulated buildings.
To keep track of the difficult conditions in the display and
storage areas, the Museum began an environmental monitoring
programme in 2011 using
Tinytag Ultra 2 TGU-4500 data loggers. Initially, the Museum
was using two data loggers and cycling them through the displays
and storage, but their collection of Tinytags has since expanded to
enable continuous monitoring of temperature and humidity in all
areas of the Museum.
Through monitoring, it was revealed that the collections were
being kept in conditions where low temperature and high humidity
were regularly experienced. Despite the extreme conditions, rust
and mould, which can cause significant damage to museum objects,
have not been observed in the Museum to the extent that might be
expected. Conservation advice suggests that this may be because the
Museum is well-ventilated.
In the future, the Museum is hoping to insulate the main
building, as this will help to elevate the indoor conditions. Jane
Demet, who chairs a team of four volunteers from the Rushden
Transport Museum, part of Rushden Historical Transport Society
(RHTS), says, "It will be interesting to see what differences
show up in the data gathered from the Tinytags once this has been
Beyond this, the Museum, is reluctant to change the environment
more significantly - for example, by introducing a permanent
heating system - in case such drastic changes would do more harm
than good to the delicate environment. Currently, electric heaters
provide warmth for winter meetings and Christmas events during the
Museum's normal period of closure and the storage cabin is of wood
construction and does not have heating.
The long term monitoring system itself has proved to be an
effective solution to managing the Museum environment. Using the
Tinytag loggers has revealed consistent trends and predictable
fluctuations, allowing the museum to take pre-emptive and
preventive actions to protect their collection.
Jane is pleased with how the Tinytags have performed over the
years. "The Tinytags are simple to set up, straightforward and
flexible to use, especially as we use the data overlay setting that
shows us a whole year's worth of data," Jane says. "The
software is suitable for volunteers and displays enough detailed
information for our monitoring programme. We have confidence that
the system helps us work in accordance with the national Museum
Jane continues, "I am impressed by the significant amounts
of data that can be stored by the loggers and completely satisfied
with the efficiency of the calibration service offered by Gemini
Data Loggers. I also like their small size, inconspicuous shape and
good battery life!"
Rushden Transport Museum is a registered charity. As well as the
station buildings that house the collections, adjacent buildings
and running track are the setting for the Society's historic
vehicles and trains. Regular themed weekend events and heritage
train rides are held throughout the year.
Images courtesy of Rushden Transport Museum.