Preserving Your Heritage Artifacts: Temperature

Extreme fluctuations in temperature can be very detrimental to your heritage artifacts. There are a few key concepts to remember when considering the best temperature at which to store your heritage artifacts.

The most beneficial environment is a cool, dry place with a stable temperature of 18-22°C. Avoid rapid changes in temperature as this is very stressful for objects, especially those made of organic material. Temperature is related to moisture in the air, and as temperature changes moisture content in the air changes. Most organic material, for example wood, textiles and paper artifacts readily take on and release moisture from the air and will shrink and expand with changing temperature which can result in cracks, tears, and general weakness. When the air is hot it can encourage objects to dry out. Keeping special objects away from heat vents and radiators as well as out of direct light sources, which is a heat source, will reduce drying out in those organic objects that are sensitive to temperature changes. Heat also encourages chemical reactions to occur at a higher pace. Therefore keeping an object at a cool, stable temperature will reduce chemical degradation such as corrosion on metals and deterioration of plastics. If objects become too cold they can freeze which causes them to become extremely brittle and sensitive to even the lightest touch.

Being mindful of the temperature at which you store your heritage artifacts can prolong their life and your enjoyment of them.