Monitoring the Exhibit Environment

In my last post, Exhibiting and Preserving Historic Artifacts at TSLAC, I described the ways we care for TSLAC collections while they are on display in our lobby, especially the measures we take to limit light exposure. Just as important as controlling light levels is maintaining appropriate temperature and relative humidity within the display cases.

When you view our lobby exhibits, you’ll notice that each case contains a small monitor. These devices display the current temperature and relative humidity within that case. But more than that, the monitors collect this information at frequent intervals and store it until preservation staff can open the cases and collect it. Once we have the data, we use a climate tracking application to graph changes in temperature and RH over time. The software also rates the environmental conditions, from “good” to “at risk”, letting us know if our storage is in keeping with best practice for the kinds of materials we maintain. TSLAC uses these environmental monitors not only in our exhibit cases but in all the storage spaces in the Lorenzo De Zavala building and the Sam Houston Center in Liberty.