New Standard For Museum And Gallery Buildings

Image: Courtesy of Beamish Museum

The following is a guest blog by Chris Woods, Director of The National Conservation Service, about the new standard, EN 16893:2018, which covers specifications for new buildings and the modification of existing buildings intended for the storage and display of all heritage collection formats.

Museum trustees, staff and volunteers may not be aware that, since 2010, work has been underway under the European Standards organisation (CEN – not the EU, so no Brexit factor) to develop a standard that covers the qualities of buildings intended to be used for museum and art collections.

The work was led by the UK, via the British Standards Institutions (BSI). The UK has had a similar standard for 40 years, but only for archives and libraries. This archive building standard has been withdrawn now but was overhauled in 2012 and issued as PD5454, taking a new approach over its old predecessor’s by emphasising the need for passive climate storage and recognising the needs and challenges of holding collections in existing and historic library and archive buildings.

The new standard, EN 16893:2018, covers specifications for new buildings and the modification of existing buildings intended for the storage and display of all heritage collection formats. It draws on PD5454 and also on BSI’s PAS 198, a cross sector guide to managing environments for collections with an emphasis on low energy use and sustainability.

For the first time, custodians in the museums world will be able to direct architects and engineers to follow a standard that covers the protective qualities they seek in their buildings, whether new or existing. These qualities are reflected in the standard under sections on Sustainability, including energy efficiency and planning, Site Risks – choosing a safe location (for a building or rooms within a building), Building Structure, Fire and flood protection and Security.

The standard can be obtained from BSI’s shop (at £238 full price) or, if your museum is a member of the National Conservation Service (from £46 p.a.) it can be accessed free. It can be sought, for viewing only, from libraries with a BSI subscription.

NCS will be running a series of conferences, in London, Aberystwyth, Scotland (venue tbc) and Dublin, in partnership with national institutions, to describe the standard and its focus in particular on passive climate storage. Information about the standard, about membership (and about the conference when it is ready) is available via our website www.ncs.org.uk or enquiries@ncs.org.uk

Chris Woods, Director NCS, chairman BSI IDT/2/9
National Conservation Service
www.ncs.org.uk

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