JAIC 1997, Volume 36, Number 2, Article 1 (pp. 95 to 107)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1997, Volume 36, Number 2, Article 1 (pp. 95 to 107)

AN ECONOMICAL DESIGN FOR A MICROCLIMATE VITRINE FOR PAINTINGS USING THE PICTURE FRAME AS THE PRIMARY HOUSING

LAURENT S. G. SOZZANI



6 IMPLICATIONS OF TESTING ON THE SIMPLIFIED ECONOMICAL DESIGN

The removal of silica gel as an RH buffer from the microclimate vitrines used by the Rijksmuseum, a consequence of the conclusions derived from the microclimate research program, is the single most significant change to the vitrine design since 1991. The omission of silica gel further simplifies the design and reduces the overall cost of fabrication. More important, it signals a shift from considering fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature as the only gauges for monitoring conditions within a sealed vitrine to including and emphasizing absolute moisture content (acknowledging the moisture exchange of the contents) as of primary importance. Despite the benefits of this design, it cannot be overemphasized that only in well-sealed microclimate vitrines with minimal internal air volume can the object come into a moisture equilibrium with the surrounding air with inconsequential moisture exchange between the air and object.

The fact that the economical frame-housing design performs at least as well as the previously popular box-insert design has positive financial implications for institutions and private owners. The implicit danger of allowing paintings to travel that otherwise would not have been available for travel should not be overlooked when considering any vitrine design. At the Rijksmuseum, however, as in many institutions that house a large number of panel paintings and have an active loan program as part of their cultural responsibility, an economical, safe, and effective traveling vitrine is a necessity.


Copyright 1997 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works