Working with Facilities to Create a Fuller Picture of Your Collection Environment

Does the building that houses your collections have temperature and humidity sensors that are read and maintained by facilities or HVAC professionals? Do you have a separate environmental monitoring system and have you ever had to seek agreement on sensors with vastly different readings? This presentation will go into some reasons why it is important to set up a parallel monitoring system even if you have BAS (building automated system) sensors, and how you can work with facilities to create a better understanding of your building. Some of the topics we will cover:

  • Different reasons why we might see a microclimate and why it’s important to have sensors installed closer to your collection items.
  • Ways to work with your facilities team to understand any reading differences you might see between the “their” sensors and “ours.”
  • How to understand the specifications of different sensors in a way that makes sense to do a sensor comparison (standard of error, sensor drift, calibration). 

The presentation is aimed to equip collections professionals with the information to discuss with our facilities colleagues why sensors may differ in readings. We will also provide some case studies of museums that have successfully built a team of collections professionals and facilities managers who work together for the most effective outcome for preservation of the collections they care for. 


Melissa King is a preventive conservator and the Vice President of Customer Experience at Conserv (a collection-specific risk management and monitoring company). She is a preventive conservation graduate from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and has had graduate and postgraduate experience in preventive conservation at the Smithsonian, English Heritage, and the Brooklyn Museum. At Conserv, she manages customer support, the online preventive conservation community, training development for the sensors and software, and product management (product roadmap decision making). She lives near Portland Maine.

Christopher Cameron worked as a Sustainable Preservation Specialist at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) for 9 years. During this time, he assisted over 60 institutions with projects ranging from evaluating collections environment and mechanical systems to establish environmental monitoring programs. He has hosted workshops on sustainability in cultural institutions and delivered webinars on a broad range of topics.

Prior to working at IPI, Christopher worked for over 12 years as a facility manager for a major real estate corporation. He is a Certified Project Manager and is trained in HVAC refrigeration. Recently he became a Certified Energy Manager. He has a passion for the cultural heritage preservation and believes that any institution, no matter how big or small, can have a significant impact on our carbon reduction.