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Air Filtration in Museums

Melissa Shea-Brooks


Remember when you were young, or even older and curious and you wanted to create this amazing time machine and go back and just see for yourself? I do, from the young toddler years, I decided that my dream job would be going into paleontology (that was after wanting to work at McDonald’s for a discount on their chicken nuggets). Every time I went to a museum, I would instantly look for the dinosaur section. Eventually, it hit me. Museums are the time machines, they are a beautiful capsule that can take your breath away. They are absolutely miraculous, and we should keep them that way.


Filtration and Artifacts


Museums are there to preserve and protect historical items that would be lost or destroyed if the museum had not been there. If left unprotected; paintings, books, sculptures and many other timeless pieces could be deteriorated by pollutants, and many of which are already in a great state of degradation. Museums only exist because of their collections. Maintaining excellent air quality is a crucial requirement in a museum's existence. Air filtration in museums is very meaningful. Without high end HVAC systems, a museum could run the risk of damaging priceless collections and artifacts due to harmful pollutants. Air filtration is crucial to the preservation of millions of dollars in artifacts and pieces. What kind of effect will those particulates have on the health of museum workers as well as the visitors?


Protection of Health


Although the systems installed in museums keeps the artifacts protected and in good condition, the air filtration also keeps the workers and visitors healthy. Besides containing priceless objects, most museums have another thing in common, organic and inorganic pollutants. Several museums were found to have sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and organic acids in a study in Conservation Journal. While the concentration of these pollutants may vary; if workers have prolonged exposure to these contaminants, it could negatively impact their health. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can damage the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys. In some cases VOCs can lead to several forms of cancer. The owners of the museum(s) must be vigilant when it comes to keeping the air quality at a safe level if they wish to keep their museum(s) open and safe.


HVAC Air Systems and Filters


Museums often have to make compromises when it comes to their HVAC air systems. They need to control the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by adjusting the outside air levels and applying filtration solutions that best meet their requirements. The building may also pose limitations on the system so maintaining them is vital. Custom made HVAC filters would best protect the displays and the people.


Our recommendations for museum filters would be anywhere between 11 to 13 on the MERV rating scale. Generally, better commercial buildings require 11 and superior commercial buildings require a 13.


For more information on filters, visit us at:


References Used:



Here are some fun museums in Rochester NY:


The George Eastman Museum:


The Strong National Museum of Play:


The University of Rochester Memorial Art Gallery:


Rochester Museum & Science Center:


High Falls Center And Interpretive Museum:

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