Modern Measurement Technology Obsession meets 500-year Old Artistic Perfection

Mona Lisa preserved by Vaisala
Janice Bennett-Livingston
Published: Apr 16, 2015
Industrial Measurements
Innovations and Inspirations

Her Eyes Follow You

Inside the Louvre, Da Vinci's 500-year-old Mona Lisa hangs in a glass display case preserved from the effects of time and the environment. The painting is believed to be a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini), the wife of a Florentine merchant.

Every year about 6 million people visit the Louvre to admire her. In French, she is called "La Joconde," meaning: "joyous one" or "lady full of mirth." Some say it feels as though her eyes follow you from within her Renaissance-era frame.

In 2005 it was discovered that condensation was degrading Da Vinci's best known portrait. The painting was moved to a new case, a tightly controlled microclimate maintained at 21°C and 50% humidity. Wilfried Gesbert, who has been assigned to monitor the conditions of La Joconde, says: ''You cannot even imagine the complexity of the installation… Changes in humidity can cause the support to contract and expand. After 500 years, the wooden support has signs of warping." The new bullet-proof non-reflective display case was tailored to preserve the painting, as was the lighting and air treatment system.Technology meets Artistry

Gesbert and his fellow climate engineers assigned to ensure preservation of the painting installed two Vaisala HMT333 temperature and humidity transmitters to monitor conditions inside the case. They required an instrument that was not only precise but failsafe. The Vaisala HMT333 devices now share the display case with the portrait, hidden from view, to ensure conditions are maintained.

In 1962 the Mona Lisa was assessed at $100 million USD. With inflation, the painting is now worth approximately $780 million USD. However; although the painting is one of the most valuable works of art, the Mona Lisa is uninsured. Considered priceless, there is no way to set a value any insurer could underwrite.

Priceless Value Requires Reliability

This, not the first time Vaisala devices have safeguarded irreplaceable assets…

In 2009 a large ophthalmology research center lost a significant amount of donated tissue during infrastructure downtime that caused several refrigeration units to fail. The loss was devastating to ongoing research.

Soon after, the Vaisala Continuous Monitoring System (CMS) was installed to replace existing environmental monitoring equipment.Because each Vaisala system sensor is equipped with onboard power and memory, environmental data is stored at the point of measurement. In addition, facility staff receive immediate alerts if sensors lose communication due to network downtime or power outage.

In Research Lies Hope

This research facility currently has 400 users on their Vaisala CMS who are responsible for hundreds of fridges and freezers that store donated ocular tissue. These chambers contain research assets that may someday aid in the discovery of new treatments. Already, research conducted at this facility has identified new therapies for degenerative diseases of the eye.

At Vaisala, we understand that you can't put a price on unique and timeless beauty. Or the ability to witness it.
We created technology that preserves both.

Reliable enough for a 10-year Warrantee

And because we just couldn't stop with an industry-best temperature and humidity transmitter, we created six different models and gave them a 10-year warranty.

  • HMT331 for wall mounting
  • HMT333 for duct mounting and tight spaces
  • HMT334 for high pressures up to 100 bar and vacuum conditions
  • HMT335 for high temperatures
  • HMT337 for high humidity and meteorological applications
  • HMT338 for pressurized pipelines up to 40 bar



Liftup: Contact Card | Jul 25, 2017

Janice Bennett-Livingston

Marketing Manager

In addition to editing the Vaisala Life Science blog, Janice Bennett-Livingston is the Global Life Science Marketing Manager for Vaisala's Industrial Measurements business area.

Pre-Vaisala writing credits include a monthly column called "Research Watch" for Canada's award-winning magazine alive, as well as articles in Canadian Living and other periodicals. Other past work: copywriting for DDB Canada, technical writing at Business Objects, and communications specialist for the British Columbia Child & Family Research Institute.

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