High-tech in Museums

Mona Lisa in Louvre, Paris, surrounded by a crowd
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Miia Lahti
May 18th 2018
Science & Sensing Technologies
Industrial Measurements

Museums are often perceived as stuffy, boring and silent places only interrupted by guided tours. This is no longer true - most museums have long arrived in the digital age. This can be experienced, for example, during the International Museum Day on May 18. Whether social media campaigns, digital mediation concepts or 360-degree apps, the analogue museum world is being digitally expanded. Modern technology is not only used by visitors, also the exhibits benefit from it. One of the most famous examples is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa: 500 years old and still looking good!

To keep it that way, the 77 x 55 centimeter oil painting is protected by a bespoke bullet proof and non-reflective glass. In addition, the renaissance beauty is shown in a positive light by specially developed, indirect LED lamps. The LEDs minimize ultraviolet radiation and help enhancing and preserving the original colors of the painting. The interior of the showcase has an optimum temperature of 21°C and 50% humidity - just like a spring day in Italy!

Temperature and humidity are monitored around the clock because any changes in these conditions would have fatal consequences. For example, higher humidity could stretch the thin poplar wood on which Da Vinci painted his masterpiece, and in the worst case scenario, this might irreversibly damage the painting. This requires absolute precision and reliability in monitoring.

This is where Vaisala, the Finnish environmental and industrial measurement expert, comes into play. Two Vaisala Humidity and Temperature Transmitters HMT333‘s are installed inside the display cabinet, behind the painting - one near her right hand, the other at the level of her right eye. These transmitters are part of a series designed for demanding industrial applications where stable measurements and extensive customization are required. These installed sensors are specially designed for confined spaces or duct mounting. The installation also includes a modern air exchange system. Once a year, the casing is opened and all parts, including the measuring instruments, are carefully checked before the display is securely sealed again.

A lot of effort for an invaluable artwork, but it’s important to protect the Mona Lisa from decay. In fact, it is invaluable: in 1962, it was estimated to be worth about $ 100 million, which would equal to about 780 million with today’s inflation. And although she is considered the most valuable painting in the world, the Mona Lisa is not insured. No insurance in the world could give a price for something so priceless. Thanks to high-tech, however, it can at least be protected against decaying too rapidly.

For more information about the Vaisala HMT330 Series Humidity and Temperature Transmitters, visit our webpage.

 

International Museum Day 2018

The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day on and around 18 May 2018. The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of Museums as venues for cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace. Organized around 18 May each year, the events and activities planned to celebrate International Museum Day can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

 

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