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An Algorithm For Preserving Art

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

Climate control is vital at the Cloisters, which houses art and architecture from the 12th to 15th centuries.

Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Technology Review

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Paolo Dionisi and IBM researchers have deployed 120 low-power temperature and humidity sensors in an attempt to determine the ideal environmental conditions to help preserve the museum's paintings. The project could provide better models for art conservators who aim to prevent cracking, warping, and mold. Most of the artwork at the Met currently is kept at a standard range of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity, but the researchers want to find more nuanced formulas based on how individual art reacts to changing conditions. "My real dream would be to have a system where the parameters we adopt are based on the real sensitivity of the objects," Dionisi says. The sensors collect temperature and humidity data once per minute, and use radio frequencies to transmit it back to a router that sends the data to IBM's cloud servers. The data produces a three-dimensional building temperature and humidity map, which the researchers can view from their desks. So far the data shows that the museum staff has been doing a good job of keeping the building in the required climate range.

From "An Algorithm for Preserving Art"

Technology Review (04/23/12) Jessica Leber

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