News – What`s happening in energy research

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Despite its skylight ceiling, Kunsthalle Mannheim currently lights its exhibition rooms exclusively with artificial light.
© Forschungsverbund
Between staging, conservation and energy efficiency

Model of the Mannheim exhibition room (scale of 1:5)
© Forschungsverbund

Exhibits in perspective

Daylight was welcome in museums at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It was only later that the detrimental effects of infrared and ultraviolet radiation on the cultural assets became known and various attempts were undertaken to keep daylight out of exhibition rooms, for example by boarding up skylights. Researchers of the German association for sustainable refurbishment of museum buildings (Forschungsverbund Nachhaltige Sanierung von Museumsbauten) headed by the Technische Universität Braunschweig are developing concepts that systematically use daylight and meet conservation requirements in the refurbishment of museums while cutting energy consumption.

Today, the skylight ceilings of exhibition rooms are often modified such that no more daylight reaches the rooms. Modern technology and materials permit a revitalisation of the use of daylight between the conflicting priorities of protecting exhibits, specific exhibition concepts and resource conserving use of energy. The scientists have analysed various daylight systems to find the optimum solution for each museum. Aside from light technology and thermal simulation calculations, they prepared true-to-scale models for comparative measurement analysis of such transparent roof and ceiling systems. In this context, they gave consideration to day-time and seasonal changes in light technology parameters, such as light intensity, light transmission degree and light density. The quality of colour reproduction is of great significance in the presentation of the exhibits. The studies carried out on the true-to-scale models not only verify the respective calculation models but also serve to give an impression of the light-dependent ambience, which varies widely from viewer to viewer. Subsequently, the roof and skylight systems are assessed as to their energy efficiency, for example via the ratio between daylight to artificial light hours during opening times or the cooling and heating energy saved within a year.

The German research association “Nachhaltige Sanierung von Museumsbauten“

It is the aim of the research association, which is promoted by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, to support museum administrators in the development of comprehensive refurbishment concepts. The daylight issue is just one of many problems in the preservation of building stock under building protection constraints, meeting indoor environment requirements with low technological complexity and reducing refurbishment and operating costs.

The researchers recorded environmental data, energy consumption and user concepts in the museums in order to gain knowledge of current calculation tools and future forecasts. At the same time, the researchers created a basis for up-to-date refurbishment concepts for numerous museums: Among the many components they contributed to the projects are decentralised ventilation systems, surface heating and cooling, modern lighting concepts and comprehensive improvements of the building envelope.

The half-way point of the four-year study and concept phase has just been reached, and applications to turn the first few museums into demonstration projects have been submitted. The refurbishment and expansion of the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven is expected to become a beacon project and the launch of the refurbishment of Kunsthalle Mannheim represents a further significant project. After their refurbishment, both buildings will be subject to several years of scientific monitoring to validate the sustainability of the measures implemented.

Exchange of experiences among administrators

Current issues and interim results will be presented and discussed in the context of workshops. Aside from those involved in the research association projects, the events will also be attended by actors responsible for other museums, thus creating a platform for the exchange of experiences. The next workshop is planned for May 2011.


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