Managing Environmental Monitoring with Jane Henderson

Object and materials conservation

Ref: M3D11570

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About this course

This course will review the agents that cause deterioration of museum and cultural heritage objects and consider how they impact on complex collections. We will discuss the basic interactions of materials with their surroundings and then consider the values and standards that shape environmental decisions and how we communicate our goals. You will examine a range of strategies, from technical to managerial, to understand and modify conditions to deliver acceptable levels of care for collections.
The course will consider the process of environmental management, from the identification of environmental factors to be considered, targets, monitoring conditions and data capture, to the interpretation of results with subsequent action.
You will develop targets for light, ultraviolet light, temperature and humidity for your organisations. There will be a discussion of other targets such as pollution, pests and emergency preparedness and about how to integrate these concepts into the collection management plan.
There will also be practical sessions to test environmental monitoring equipment and an opportunity to discuss the range of equipment available and the opportunities these create. The thorny issue of interpreting data, especially humidity and temperature charts, will be addressed so that you are able to interpret charts from your own organisations and compare them to the targets they have set. The course will complete the cycle by discussing how to respond to and report on the findings of the data. Simple reporting and action plans will be discussed followed by a session focused on how to make influential recommendations.

Course Description

Day 1  
Evening- Course outline and lecture:  The evolution and development of standards – the plus minus debate 

Day 2   
Introductions and icebreaker.  Goals and Challenges.  Agents of deterioration.  Core concepts in environmental control and monitoring.  Equipment available for monitoring 
Calibration and accuracy of data.  Where to monitor?  Your goals for environmental improvement  
Evening- Access and use, significance and value – what we choose to bring forward. 

Day 3   
How does humidity and temperature damage collections?  Measuring humidity.  Humidity and temperature targets.  Monitoring temperature and humidity 
Interpreting RH and temperature graphs.  Psychrometric charts.  Control and management strategies for temperature and humidity. Your organisation’s corporate priorities. 
Evening- Engaging stakeholders in environmental management decisions.
Day 4   
Light - How does it damage collections?  Light targets from maximum to dosage.  Taking light readings.
Strategies to manage and control light.  Strategies for collections management.  What makes a good report?    Evaluation, action plan and close  
15.30- Course ends.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

Delegates are asked to bring data outputs from environmental monitoring in their own organisations for discussion on the course.  All delegates should bring the mission statement of an organisation that they work with.  Course participants who wish to prepare for the course are encouraged to read the agents of deterioration website and the British Library pamphlet on managing the library and archive environment. 


Jane Henderson

Jane Henderson, BSc, MSc, PACR, FIIC, Professor in Conservation at Cardiff University

Jane Henderson serves on the editorial panel of the Journal of the Institute for Conservation, is a co-opted member on the trustee board of the Welsh Federation of Museum and Art Galleries and is a visiting Researcher of the Scientific Conservation Institute in Beijing. Jane was delighted and honoured to win the Plowden medal in 2021.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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