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Winterthur Gets Grant to Upgrade Environmental Control


?Winterthur announced on Aug. 29 that it had been selected for the prestigious Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The $350,000 grant will enable Winterthur to update and enhance the Museum’s environmental monitoring and control systems necessary for collection preservation in its three major buildings — the Museum, the Louise DuPont Crowninshield Research Building, and the Conservation Laboratories.

A crack in a painted tabletop.

?I am honored to announce that Winterthur is the proud recipient of this acclaimed grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the amount of $350,000,? Dr. David Roselle, Winterthur director, said. ?This grant funding and a significantly greater matching amount from Winterthur will enable us to install a new, comprehensive heating, ventilation, and air-condition (HVAC) monitoring and control system, effectively reducing energy consumption and improving the preservation environment in the three major buildings.?

Joining Winterthur executives, board members, and trustees at the press conference were Dr. Nadina Gardner, NEH Director of Preservation and Access, and Delaware’s U.S. congressional delegation — Senators Tom Carper (D) and Chris Coons (D); and Representative John Carney (D).

?With its collections of exceptional significance to the nation, Winterthur will be preserving important cultural resources for researchers and the public. It will also help to move the field forward in understanding sustainable preservation strategies through its careful planning, innovative methodologies, and commitment to sharing the project’s results,? said Gardner.

Winterthur Director Dave Roselle

?Winterthur is a cultural gem in Delaware that brings tourists from all over to the First State, boosting the local economy and giving Delaware one more source of pride,? said Carper. ?I?m so pleased to see federal dollars going to energy conservation at Winterthur to help conserve and protect the collections there. Not only will Winterthur receive energy savings, but it will use the data gained and share it with other organizations so they can learn from Winterthur’s conservation efforts. That’s a win-win.?

Coons said, ?This grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities is an investment in the preservation of one of the nation’s preeminent collections of American art and culture. ?As a member of the Senate Energy Committee, I am glad that Winterthur will use this funding to update and enhance the museum’s mechanical equipment to improve energy efficiency and lower energy consumption. Greater energy efficiency will enable Winterthur to spend less money on utility bills and more money on public programming, research, collection care and maintenance of this local treasure.?

“I’m pleased that this project will allow Winterthur to enhance and preserve its world-renowned decorative arts collection,” said Carney. “Winterthur’s exhibits document the proud history of our state and nation, and serve as a training ground for some of the best museum professionals in the world. The improvements announced today will ensure that these opportunities remain available for future generations.”

When combined with a significantly larger matching amount by Winterthur, the $350,000 grant from NEH will address the environmental control issues in Winterthur’s Collection areas by:
? Installing a new, integrated, state-of-the art wireless monitoring and control system to replace obsolete systems and technology throughout collection areas. The new system will report real-time data through an interface developed for this project in partnership with the Image Permanence Institute.

A chair stained by a leaking induction unit.

? Significantly upgrading mechanical equipment to improve control over different rooms in the Museum, Galleries and Research Building, each of which have different environmental needs based on variable sun exposure, floor, proximity to heat ducts and windows, ventilation requirements, and occupancy.
? Using data from the new monitoring and control system to safely test and implement significant operational energy efficiencies in collection areas. Recent research has discovered that most objects can safely tolerate a broader environmental range than that provided by the older technology currently in place.
The project will benefit the region and cultural heritage collections nationally by:
? Lowering energy consumption and reducing Winterthur’s carbon footprint and the pollution caused by the fossil fuels used to produce energy. Mechanical upgrades will result in a savings of approximately 13 percent; operational efficiencies will achieve savings of at least 20 percent.
? Funds saved by reducing energy consumption will be used to enhance public programing, research, collection care and maintenance of this public treasure.
? Once thoroughly tested and developed, the new control system interface will be made available to other cultural institutions by the Image Permanence Institute.
? Lessons learned through testing and development of energy saving operational protocols will be widely disseminated through lectures, publications and an NEH white paper.