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3rd IIC Round Table: The Plus/Minus Dilemma: The Way Forward in Environmental Guidelines

For over four decades the guidelines for museum environmental conditions have been defined within fairly narrow parameters. While a variety of factors influenced what became standards, the narrowest range of conditions and the greatest insistence on them came when energy was relatively inexpensive, global climate considerations were not yet mainstream discussions, and the technology of HVAC systems dealt more with control than efficiency. Given the looming energy crisis, the global economic downturn, and a rising awareness of green technology that equates to good stewardship of our natural resources, an insistence on environmental control has become increasingly important. Budgets are tight, and museums often depend upon loan exhibitions to keep their audience support. Internationally, the standards do not maintain cohesive strength under scrutiny and are weakened by daily compromises.

For this third event in the series, 'Dialogues for the New Century: Round Table discussions on the conservation of cultural heritage in a changing world,' IIC discussed these issues.


An expert panel discussed environmental guidelines issues, advances in research, and the way forward to solve the plus/minus dilemma. Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, Indianapolis Museum of Art, served as the moderator and provocateur for panel members. Other scheduled participants included: Nancy Bell, Head of Conservation Services, National Archives, London, and Principle Investigator of the Environment Guidelines, Opportunities, and Risks (EGOR) initiative; Cecily Grzywacz, Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute, and involved in the development of the ASHRAE guidelines for museum environments; Stefan Michalski, Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Services Division, Canadian Conservation Institute; Karen Colby Stothart, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Installations, National Gallery of Canada; Terry Drayman-Weisser, The Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director of Conservation & Technical Research, Walters Art Museum.


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Past Round Tables
Before the Unthinkable Happens Again: an International Round Table Discussion on the Need for Seismic Mitigation Research and Application for Cultural Heritage, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, June 22, 2009. Download Transcript 

Climate Change and Museum Collections, The National Gallery — Sainsbury Wing Theatre, London, September 17, 2008. Download Transcript 

Experts Roundtable on Sustainable Climate Management Strategies, Getty Conservation Institute, Tenerife, Spain, April 2007. More information

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