Gander & White protect their high-value art with automated climate monitoring

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Improper fine art storage can ruin a collection and erase its potential value, so it is important for both private collectors as well as museums and galleries to protect their collections. Temperature and humidity are two of the most important elements that can affect the condition of paintings and other fine art. Paper and canvas are susceptible to mould and mildew, which occur in warm moist environments.

On the other hand, dry air can also cause paintings to crack, so they should not be stored or displayed near heating vents or in rooms with very low humidity levels. These factors also need to be considered when choosing a long-term storage facility, which should always be climate controlled and kept at an optimal temperature for fine art storage, avoiding sudden fluctuations in relative humidity. 

The customer: Gander & White was founded in 1933 by Frank White. Over the last 85 years, they have become established as one of the premier shipping and installation companies, providing services to Art Dealers, Private Collections and Museums around the world. They have offices in various global locations including; London, Paris, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco & Palm Beach.

Gander & White has been entrusted with the installation of art from some of the largest private collectors and institutions worldwide. Privacy and confidentiality is paramount to Gander & White and is an integral part of their daily work ethic.

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The challenge

Gander & White recently moved into a purpose-built facility in Wandsworth in South West London. They had previous system in place to measure climate, but it had a number of draw backs. These included a lack of data backup, poor technical support, and no function to provide clients with a printout of data for temperature and humidity. 

This led the management team at Gander & White (led by Jim Grundy – Director of Art Operations) to explore options for a new solution for monitoring climate. As well as rectifying the issues with their previous system, they needed a system to serve two key purposes:

Firstly, (as is the norm in this type of application), they were looking for a system that would provide 24/7 monitoring of the facility, to ensure that the fine art was being maintained at the correct temperature and humidity levels, going forward.

Interestingly however, they also intended to install a system to establish when the new building would be ready to use. Jim initially had concerns initially whether a wireless system would work in their new building, but wanted way of monitoring the climate in the facility prior to any items being stored there. To monitor the humidity levels in the various areas of this large facility, to establish when the concrete walls, floors and ceilings had dried out to a sufficient level to allow them to begin storing art in the facility.

The solution

Launched in 2017, the testo 160 was developed especially for monitoring climate and conditions in museums. Thanks to versatile options for combinations of integrated sensors and probes, any monitoring situation, from exhibitions to storage, is covered. Operation and programming of the data loggers is simple and carried out directly via the Testo Cloud.

Whilst for Gander & White’s application it wasn’t necessary, as daylight has been excluded from the storage areas, the testo 160 system also has the capability to include lux and UV radiation measurement, should these be a requirement.

Measurement data is stored by the data logger via your WLAN directly to the Testo Cloud. If limit values are exceeded, you will be notified immediately by email or (optionally) SMS thanks to the alarm function. You can access all measuring values and analysis functions at any time and from anywhere with an internet-capable smartphone, tablet or PC.

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Gander & White’s particular solution consists of 38 testo 160 loggers, all tasked with monitoring the temperature and humidity of their new storage facility. They are aware that they need to keep both optimum temperature and humidity levels, in order to preserve their fine art storage and the testo 160 system provides them with a comprehensive, yet simple way of doing so. This coupled with the various reporting options, makes the testo 160 the ideal system to monitor climate in such a facility

As mentioned previously Jim Grundy had issues with their previous system regarding technical support. With the testo 160 system Gander & White have had no such issues, as Jim explains; “I’ve been impressed with the technical support, backup and communication. In the past I have experienced so many problems with unresponsive contractors and suppliers. Our Testo Solutions Service Manager has been excellent and responds immediately to any concerns or questions.” Jim’s concerns over the use of a wireless system in the new building were soon eradicated once the testo 160 system was installed. “The four hour fire rated concrete walls are very dense and I was unsure if a wireless system would work. It’s a very neat solution and gives us flexibility to move loggers in the future without rewiring. ”