News Details
25,000-year Old Museum Piece Needs Climate Control
15 May 2014

A few months ago the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) in Mumbai displayed, like a jewel in the dark, in the specially air conditioned Curator’s Gallery, the 2,500-year Cyrus Cylinder from the Persian Empire for the benefit of the Parsi community, who migrated to India from ancient Persia and now live largely in the city. In a latis lazuli blue colour, it is suggestive of the shades found in Babylonian buildings during King Cyrus’ rule. The tiny, just 8.9 inches long, clay cylinder that carries an inscription believed to be the oldest known charter of universal human rights, was loaned by the British Museum with strict conditions specified for packing, transportation and exhibition at a temperature between 20 and 24°C with relative humidity not exceeding 55%. A special electronic recorder prints the temperature and relative humidity every five minutes, and sounds an alarm if the set limits are breached. These weekly logs are then compiled and sent to the British Museum for inspection. Each display and material needs a special temperature and humidity and strict maintenance of these conditions comes in handy if an insurance claim has to be filed. The protocol around climate control is just one of the many standards a museum must adhere to before it can host an international exhibition. The lending institution determines the value of an artefact before it is shipped abroad based on what the open market today would be willing to pay, if it were available. The low cost of proper climate control is a very small price to pay to avoid any deterioration in the product displayed

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