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Passive Environmental Control

Cutting edge technology and a first in UK temporary exhibition galleries

Passive Environmental Control

The Whitworth has adopted a passive approach to environmental conditioning for the collections – this is cutting edge technology and a first in UK temporary exhibition galleries.

In accordance with new thinking across the museum sector, the Whitworth has chosen to broaden the environmental parameters of temperature and relative humidity that have traditionally been used for the storage and display of collections.  This new approach is good for the planet, saves money and enables us to care for our collections in a more sustainable way.

Air conditioning and active chilling has been removed from the stores and galleries, and has been replaced with mechanical ventilation and a conservation heating approach to regulate relative humidity - this methodology means our building is warmer in summer and cooler in winter and so we ask staff and visitors to dress according to the season.  In addition, the galleries and stores are conditioned by the passive effects of the thermal mass of the ground slab, new roof insulation, the use of lime plaster, and the new promenades, which wrap around them providing an environmental buffer zone.

The new exhibition galleries use a programmable track lighting to deliver monitored cumulative lighting exposure for objects on display, while light sensitive works in the collection are protected by a flexible system of louvres, blinds and carefully placed brise soleil.  We received £26,000 via the University’s Revolving Green Fund for LED lighting in our exhibition galleries, and we can reduce costs further as daylight sensors enable greater use of natural light.