Monitoring helps ensure the ongoing preservation and conservation of museum artefacts to ensure they are kept in the correct environmental conditions.
Rushden Transport Museum in Northamptonshire is home to a
collection of artefacts relevant to the history of road and rail
transport with particular reference to Rushden and the surrounding
area. Displays are housed in four rooms of the restored Victorian
(1893) Rushden Railway Station, with collections also stored in a
nearby a port-a-cabin.
The Museum is aware that neither the brick-built station
building, nor the port-a-cabin is ideal. Restoration and
maintenance of the station building has proved effective, however
it remains uninsulated and draughty, relying on electric heaters to
provide some warmth in winter, the normal closed season. A
dehumidifier is also used in the winter. The cabin is of wood
construction and has no heating.
To ensure the collections are maintained in the correct
conditions, the Museum uses two Tinytag Ultra 2 Temp/RH
loggers which are rotated throughout the display areas and
store to provide an indication of conditions across the whole site.
The collections comprise approximately 1,000 items in a broad range
of materials and include items such as photographs and paper
ephemera, textiles, metal, wood, ceramics and leather, often in
composite artefacts. The environmental monitoring programme set up
in 2011 revealed that these collections are kept in conditions
where low temperature and high levels of humidity are regularly
experienced, however evidence of mould growth or rust is not
apparent. Conservation advice suggests that this may be due to good
ventilation and the combination of low temperature with high
humidity, which impedes the chemical changes that might otherwise
be anticipated. Evidence of negative impacts is not obvious and the
conservation advice suggests that the present environment is
maintaining the collections in a stable condition.
Without further investigation the Museum is reluctant to change
the environment significantly in case the balance is upset and
creates more harm than good. However, it is in the forward
development plan to improve the electrics, heating and insulation
in the building and in the meantime they continue to monitor the
data to ensure the artefacts are not adversely affected.
Jane Demet is one of seven volunteers on the Museum Management
Group, and works alongside Museum Manager Gwenfra Walpole with a
specific interest in monitoring the collection. Jane comments, "In
my experience the Tinytags are simple to set up, straight forward
and flexible to use. The software is suitable for
volunteers to use and display enough detailed information for our
monitoring program and enable us to work in accordance with the
national Accreditation Standard. I also like their small size and
Jane continues, "I am impressed by the significant amounts of
data that can be stored by the loggers and am completely satisfied
with the efficiency of the calibration service offered by Gemini
Rushden Transport Museum is a registered charity. As well as the
station buildings housing 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.