GOOD Video: How One Museum Uses Data to Preserve Works of Art


This content was produced by GOOD with support of IBM

Hidden in tombs, or deep in the earth, artifacts from civilizations past are found every day by archeologists worldwide. After these pieces emerge from their time capsules and are dusted and cleaned off, many end up in museums for the public to see, learn, and enjoy.

But what goes into protecting these delicate, often irreplaceable items from potentially destructive things like grease, dirt, humidity, and temperature changes? If you ask the staff at the Cloisters Museum, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, they’ll tell you a whole lot.

Housed in a medieval building in Tryon Park at the northern tip of Manhattan, the Cloisters has approximately 2,000 works of art that it must keep in a stable environment protected from New York’s hot, humid summers, and cold winters. Going beyond general climate control, the Cloisters uses complex sensors to understand micro-environmental conditions surrounding each individual piece of art. Take a look at the video above to see how preservationists are using the power of climate data to protect art for generations to come.