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IBM Installs Preservation Network in Metropolitan Museum of Art

Analysis leader IBM has partnered with The Metropolitan Museum of Art to install a new wireless sensor network that will help preserve the works of art in its collection. The technology, called Low-Power Mote, was recently installed and is currently being tested at The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe containing approximately 3,000 various works of art.

The climate in the tested galleries is being tightly controlled because of the sensitivity of artwork to fluctuations in temperature, relative humidity and other environmental conditions. Sealed cases are used to preserve the most delicate pieces.

“This new technology offers a real-time, detailed picture of the environment, and we are now working on an upgrade that will also monitor the actual reactions of the works of art to the environment,” explained Paolo Dionisi Vici, associate research scientist in the department of scientific research at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “These developments have the potential for us to create ‘sensing environments’ for works of art that will provide constant feedback, enabling conservators, curators, and facilities experts to fine tune their approaches to establishing and adapting as necessary the exhibition and storage conditions.”

Low-Power Mote technology involves involves time-stamped data collection being transferred through a wireless sensor network, data storage with real-time visualization, modeling and analysis. The museum plans to expand Low-Power Mote to additional galleries of the museum,  ultimately leading to better preservation of artwork.

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