Contributed by Marla Taylor
The bulk of the Peabody’s collection is stored in the basement. It has been challenging over the years to control the temperature and humidity in the basement – an essential factor in maintaining an artifact collection. A small fluctuation of both temperature and humidity is normal and expected as seasons change. However, extreme variation lead to damage – bone can become fragile, ceramics can develop weak-points, and even stone tools can become brittle.
For the past four years, I have been tracking the environment throughout Peabody and noticed these strong fluctuations. By taking readings of the temperature and humidity in all our storage spaces once an hour (through the use of a datalogger), I determined that the influx of outdoor air through these poorly sealed windows is large contributing factor. There is only one way to fix this.
In collaboration with the Office of Physical Plant on campus, we are implementing a plan to mitigate some of this fluctuation. Contractors are working to seal the windows in the basement to stop outside air from sneaking into the storage.
This will stabilize the environment and lead to fewer changes in both temperature and humidity. The first step on the road to environmental control!