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Article Date: 4th December 2013

Munters Helps bring The Bronze Age to Orford Museum

Air Treatment - De Humidification - Dehumidifier Systems - Condensation Control

Munters Orford Castle

Orford Museum is an MLA accredited museum that collects and displays historical material found in Orford and the surrounding area in Suffolk. The museum has been situated inside Orford Castle, a historic local landmark that was built in the 12th century by King Henry II and is owned and maintained by English Heritage. Inside the museum, display cabinets house material relating to The Castle, The Borough, Archaeology – Prehistory to 1550, River, Land & Sea and The Bronze Age, in addition to other small finds displays.

As a building, Orford Castle affords the museum and its visitors a visually attractive home that is steeped in history. However, it is stone-built and unheated so provides very little protection against environmental damage for the exhibits. “Due to its age and the way it was built” says Jennifer Hall, Orford Museum Curator “a significant volume of moisture is absorbed by the building, especially in the winter when the cold temperatures cause condensation to build.”

Without protection, the exhibits are exposed to potential moisture-related damage. This issue was no more apparent than when Orford Museum bid to bring a locally-found Bronze Age hoard from Ipswich Museum to Orford.

Conservation

In order to progress the bid, specific criteria including strict monitoring and control of relative humidity levels had to be achieved. Many metals will corrode rapidly in the presence of condensation, with the rate of corrosion further accelerated by natural and industrial pollutants. If exposed to high humidity, Bronze can develop “Bronze disease,” an irreversible corrosion process that will destroy the artefacts if they are not properly protected.

In order to ensure the required conditions could be achieved, Orford Museum consulted English Heritage, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London for advice. They recommended Munters, a global leader in energy efficient air treatment and dehumidification.

Munters installed five MG50 desiccant dehumidifiers (one for each display case) to maintain relative humidity levels to 50% RH all year round. The MG50 dehumidifier is a compact, lightweight unit that provides dry air to artefacts to prevent moisture damage such as mould and corrosion.

Michael Flint, Chairman of the Orford Museum says

"The Bronze Age exhibits are an exciting addition to the museum and without Munters it would not have been possible to bring this unique collection home to Orford."

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