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IMA Expands Acceptable Temperature and Humidity Guidelines
A couple walks through the contemporary art galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/AJ Mast.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art recently expanded the temperature and relative humidity ranges allowed in most of its museum galleries and art storage spaces in order to reduce the energy usage of the museum while continuing rigorous stewardship of the art objects in its care. This move will continue the process of greening the IMA, which began in 2005 and has resulted in significant energy savings and reduced environmental impact. The IMA has instituted these new standards and has notified all current and future lenders of this change.

“The IMA is pleased to take a leadership role in introducing these new standards for museum climate control, using the latest scientific research to find new ways for museums to decrease energy consumption,” said Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. “We are taking the first step in building international consensus on loosening environmental strictures by adapting these new standards in our own galleries.”

These relaxed standards may result in significant cost savings in energy bills and a reduced impact on carbon emissions—continuing the greening process at the IMA that has been a key institutional initiative since 2005. In 2009, the IMA was the first fine art museum to become a member of the Energy Star program, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that promotes energy-efficient practices.

Recent scholarship has indicated that the current museum guidelines for climate control can be expanded. In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution’s Conservation Analytical Laboratory issued revised guidelines allowing for as much as 15 per cent fluctuation in relative humidity and fluctuations by as much as ten degrees Celsius—and other researchers have come to that conclusion. According to the new standards set out by the IMA, with incremental seasonal adjustments, the range for humidity will be 50% RH +/- 8 (with a variation percentage of +/- 6% in a 24 hour period) and for temperature will be 70°F +/- 4 (with a variation percentage of +/- 2° in a 24 hour period). Particularly sensitive composite artworks such as Asian screens and scrolls will have slightly tighter controls in their dedicated galleries and storage area. Further study and observation of such materials will inform future display and storage requirements.

Sustainability at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art values not only the conservation of its artistic assets, but also of its environmental assets. The Museum is in a unique position to lead by example in the area of sustainability in the city of Indianapolis and beyond, and to proactively address global environmental issues. As a part of the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s thorough and ongoing effort to achieve greater sustainability, the Museum has formed a greening task force comprised of a cross-section of Museum employees and members of its Board of Governors whose focus is to integrate principles of sustainability into major Museum decisions and to shape public programs that foster environmental stewardship.

The Museum has also established the following affiliations:

• The IMA joined the Central Indiana Clean Air Partnership in 2007 and has achieved gold-level membership by making more than 10 commitments to improve local air quality.

• In 2008, the IMA joined the Indiana Recycling Coalition in an effort to improve source reduction and reuse and recycling activities.

• In April 2008, the IMA joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. The IMA’s voluntary membership in this partnership underscores the Museum’s commitment to use green power where feasible in its operations as a means to proactively address global climate risk.

Since 2006, when the IMA began a dedicated effort to reduce its energy consumption, the Museum has implemented a wide range of green technologies and strategies across all sectors of the IMA’s operations.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art | Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson | Indianapolis |

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