Museums and cultural heritage institutions, besides making their collections accessible to the public, have the important duty of preserving their art-pieces for future generations. Among the possible risks art objects may be exposed to, degradation and aging due to climate fluctuations is one of the most debated topics within the conservation community.
To circumvent these problems, during the twentieth century, strict indoor climate specifications have been developed. These are, however, associated with an environmental-unfriendly policy, involving high energy consumptions and costs for climate installations. Museums are currently required to set environmental sustainability as a priority of interest. This can be achieved by avoiding unnecessarily strict climate specifications, without causing any damage to the collections. Extensive research must be therefore done in this direction to assess the risk of degradation of highly susceptible objects, as a function of the climate conditions.
This project focuses precisely on the issue of long-term, climate-related degradation/aging of wooden panel paintings and decorated furniture, in which damage phenomena are often due to the failure of the glue joints between wood boards. This has been observed in a museum study at the Rijksmuseum performed within the NWO-Climate4Wood project; yet, a physically-based explanation of these damage mechanisms is still lacking.
Accordingly, this project proposes a research strategy that bridges the gap between the mechanistic understanding of degradation/aging of wooden panels and the object-related observations from conservation practice. This will assist conservators in minimizing degradation of the artefacts and in applying a more environment-friendly conditioning of the indoor climate.