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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue:  April 8, 2002
Volume 37, Number 18

UNM Art Museum closes for extensive renovations April 15

The UNM Art Museum will close April 15 for extensive renovations to the museum’s climate control system and will reopen in the fall.

Funded in large part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) National Heritage Preservation Program, the result will be a high quality environment for the museum’s nationally recognized collections.

In addition to the NEH grant, support for the project comes from a private family foundation and the assistance of UNM Facility Planning under Vice President for Business and Finance Julie Weaks. The new system will provide stable humidity and temperature and clean, filtered air in the museum galleries and storage vaults.

Stable humidity and temperature are essential because art objects are remarkably sensitive to fluctuations in humidity and temperature, as well as light levels and particulate contaminants. Wood, canvas, paper, paint and photographic emulsion—all expand and contract at different rates with changes in humidity and temperature. Over time, paint and photographic emulsion can crack and separate from its paper or canvas support. A small particle can settle on a surface and, during the years, become a focus for chemical damage to the paint or emulsion.

In the almost forty years since the museum was built, the technology for providing stable environmental conditions has improved dramatically, at the same time that research in the science of art conservation increasingly focused attention on the potential damage to art stored under poor conditions.

The UNM Art Museum has long monitored environmental conditions in the collections areas and worked with art conservators to evaluate and conserve works of art. In 1999, UNM joined a nation-wide consortium, organized by the Image Permanence Institute, to study the effects of environmental changes on museum collections.

The museum’s increasing attention to collection preservation occurred as the range and cultural significance of the museum’s collections grew exponentially. The UNM Art Museum now holds approximately 30,000 works of art—painting, sculpture, photographs, drawings, and prints—that represent over 500 years of artistic and cultural history.

Miss the chance to see a favorite work of art before the museum closes April 15? Pick up a copy of the UNM Art Museum’s Highlights of the Collection, an illustrated selection of some of the most important objects in the collection. Museum information, educational programs, and virtual exhibitions can be accessed at http://UNMartmuseum.unm.edu.