AICCM Environmental Guidelines

AICCM endorses the following environmental guidelines for the care of cultural heritage collections. Temperature and Relative Humidity (RH) parameters for preservation of cultural heritage collections will differ according to material, construction and condition. A constant environment within the given parameters is generally acceptable for most objects in stable condition.

In December 2018 the AICCM Council ratified the AICCM Environmental Guidelines for Australian Cultural Heritage Collections, which provides guidelines for Temperate and Subtropical / Tropical climates. The Heritage Collections Council guidelines have been referenced in the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries since the document was first published in 2007. These guidelines have been adopted by many organisations around Australia and are likely to be more achievable for the care of collections in environments with limited or no mechanical air conditioning control.

AICCM is currently developing logic models to support the process of climate parameter decision-making. Circumstances such as the type of collection(s), building fabric, mechanical and non-mechanical climate control, local climate conditions, budget and resources are all important factors when considering sustainable environmental control for the long term care of collections.

AICCM Environmental Guidelines for Australian Cultural Heritage Collections
AICCM, 2014/2018

Climate zone Temperature range RH range
Temperate 15-25C 45-55 ±5%
Subtropical / Tropical 15-25C 50-60 ±5%

Temperate seasonal RH range
Subtropical / Tropical seasonal RH range

40-60%
45-65%

Provisions:

  • Temperature and RH parameters for preservation of cultural materials will differ according to their material, construction and condition, but constant conditions maintained within the parameters above are generally acceptable for most objects in stable condition.
  • Where storage and display environments experience seasonal drift, RH change can be managed gradually across the wider seasonal range limits.
  • Minimise fluctuations in temperature and RH, and where possible limit temperature and RH changes within a 24 hour period to ±4C and ±5%RH.

Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions
Heritage Collections Council, 2002

Climate zone Temperature range RH range
Temperate 18-24C 45-65%
Hot dry 22-28C 40-60%
Hot humid 22-28C 55-70%


Provision:

  • It is recommended that levels of temperature and RH should, on a daily basis, be kept within the boundaries given. If this is not possible then it is necessary to minimise periods at high or low levels, and fluctuations in temperature and RH.

Read the HCC Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions (2002)

Check locations and climate zones


Environmental Guidelines Project

Work continues on the Environmental Guidelines Project in the following areas, to provide resources for Australian cultural heritage organisations to work towards sustainable heritage collection practices.

  • Data gathering through The Collection Environment survey.
  • Publication of a resource that lists the environmental parameters used by national and state institutions.
  • Publication of a bibliographical resource that promotes Australian research and incorporates relevant International research.
  • Development and publication of a logic tool that supports and guides decision making. The tool will incorporate national climate change forecasting to support long term decision making.
  • Development and publication of case studies as a resource that describe the processes and issues experienced by organisations that have or are transitioning to wider environmental parameters.
  • Enabling access to learning opportunities for students in conservation training by facilitating the development of case studies with complementary student research projects.
  • Sourcing funding opportunities for field work.

Links to other useful information

    • Specifications for temperature and relative humidity to limit climate-induced mechanical damage in organic hygroscopic materials. BS EN 15757:2010
    • Guidelines for management of environmental conditions. Open storage facilities: definitions and characteristics of collection centres dedicated to the preservation and management of cultural heritage. BS EN 16141:2012
    • Specification for managing environmental conditions for cultural collections. PAS 198:20212 (DISCONTINUED)
    • Risk management – Principles and guidelines. AS NZS ISO 31000:2009
    • Specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections. BS EN 16893:2018

If you would like further information or to participate in the activities of the Environmental Guidelines Project please email the project coordinator