Saturday, September 8, 2012

Freiburg's Central Art Depot

It is a Freiburg tradition that during the summer holidays (the school vacation started rather late this year in Baden-Württemberg and will come to end next week) the BZ and Germany's two big parties the CDU and the SPD organize tours of interesting places and institutions free of charge for citizens. I had visited many a place in previous years but this week I participated in three guided tours of which our local newspaper the Badische Zeitung had organized two.

In my first blog I would like to report on Freiburg's new Central Art Depot that was built and finished in an industrial zone outside the city at the beginning of this year for a little less than 7 million euros.

I still remember the museums in those olden days with waxed floors, poor lighting, and packed full glass cabinets. In addition these places had all the same moldly smell. For modern museums less-is-more and they dare the gap concentrating on their highlights with few additional items. But where did and does the rest go?

The ultimate highlight: Nofretete (Nefertiti) in the Neues Museum Berlin.
I took the photo in 2009.
Well, the storage of objets d'art needs space. In the past Freiburg's museums had located their stuff in various places even in Frankfurt and in most cases not in acceptable conditions. During the visit of the new central storage place I learned that it is not the temperature that counts but the humidity. Temperatures may even vary between 10 and 25 degrees centigrade but the relative humidity has to be kept constant at about 50% to preserve the stored items

For more than 30 years a dehumidifier has been working in my three different basements to keep the relative humidity between 50 and 60 %. Not that I store objets d'art but to keep paper readable it is essential that the relative humidity does not exceed 60% where it is stored.

58% relative humidity in my basement
My dehumidifier based on the principle of an inversed fridge is still the same old machine and working as on the day of its delivery except for the indicator light, a neon bulb. There were no light diodes at the end of the 1970ties.

The working horse in my basement. Note: the water collector below is filled to one third.
Freiburg's Central Art Depot is a two story building with a surface of 5500 square meters for storage. The relative humidity inside is held at 50% for a minimum of energy consumption. Thick walls and insulation materials keep the temperature variations small while only a small amount of filtered and conditioned air is added just to renew what is necessary.

Storage of ethnographic items.
Standing behind Tilmann von Stockhausen I am listening to his explanations (Photo BZ).
Three groups of 25 persons each were separately lead through the building and I was lucky with my guide. It was the director of Freiburg's museums Tilmann von Stockhausen. He said that so far more than 100 lories had collected and delivered the items to be stored but that most were still in their boxes.

Our group approaching in one of those big galleries housing all the necessary tubing
(Photo BZ).
For the responsible people it presently is more important to unite all items until the end of the year than to make order. Still, they have started unpacking and Dr. von Stockhausen proudly presented the first oil paintings in correct order on their shifting rollers.

Tillmann von Stockhausen showing some of his treasures (Photo BZ).
With such a well organized storage it will become easier to change items for exposition in Freiburg's museums in addition to those objets d'art permanently exposed.

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