As seasons begin changing here in Minnesota, one element that you may not have thought of is humidity. The humidity in an average home changes as the seasons change and the biggest drops occur in the winter months. This is because the outdoor air is cold and dry. As the fall and winter seasons progress, the home fills with this dry air. Without humidification added to the environment, the average home will drop to between 25% and 35% RH (Relative humidity). Many times we can feel this dryness as it shows up as itchy skin or even a sore throat. 

These low humidity levels can affect artwork as well. Low moisture levels might cause artwork to shrink and take a different shape from its original version. Overly dry air can cause cracks on pieces of art, especially those made up of wood. The finish on these items can also become brittle and look different from how it was created and wooden artwork might warp if continuously exposed to dry air.

A2 Art Storage Humidity
Humidification at A2 Art Storage & Services

Metal inlays, marquetry, and paint could become loose and detach when the levels of humidity in the surrounding air are too low. The situation is even worse when it comes to artwork made of paper or papyrus; these will simply lose the writings, and with time, get torn. Artwork that contains hair or silk can also become brittle and break when the indoor air is too dry. Pottery and terracotta are also among prime objects that might crack due to excessively low humidity levels. 

According to Museum Registration Methods, 5th ed, by Rebecca Buck & Jean Allman Gilmore, environmental stability is one of the most important aspects to maintaining a collection of objects over the long term. They say, “fluctuations in either temperature or RH cause stress to collections materials by forcing them to expand and contract on a microscopic level. This stress eventually wears out the collections.” 

This importance of environment to collections management, as well as the fluctuations in the humidity of our northern climate, are why A2 takes temperature and humidity so seriously. Each room of our art storage space is kept at a stable 70 degrees F (+/ – 3) and 50% Relative Humidity (RH) (+/ – 3) all year around. This climate composition establishes a constant atmosphere that safeguards your art from developing the types of damage that are typically associated with art being stored in an uncontrolled environment.

Are you interested in taking the next step in protecting your collection? Contact Us to learn about our cost-effective options for storing your collection!