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Museums, libraries and archives in the face of climate change challenges


Museums, together with archives, galleries and libraries (GLAM), are guardians of collective memory and cultural heritage.

They take care of and protect artefacts of historic and artistic importance that testify to the evolution of humanity and its artistic and intellectual achievements. 

However, their future is at stake owing to climate change, global warming and unstable weather conditions. Hikes in temperature, torrential rain and floods put GLAM infrastructure in a challenging position given the need to guarantee safe conditions to accommodate all kinds of artefacts made from materials such as paper, leather, canvas, silk, wood, stone and bronze. Each category requires different storage conditions as regards temperature, humidity, exposure to light, etc. If such conditions are not guaranteed, the integrity of these artefacts is threatened by mechanical, chemical and biological factors. In attempting to address these challenges, GLAM buildings also need to adapt to energy efficiency requirements. This, together with necessary adaptations to indoor conditions for the exhibition and storage of valuable artefacts for their proper preservation and preventive conservation, as well as digitisation, require human and financial resources, upskilling and training.

Budgets for GLAM institutions, particularly for museums, are limited however owing to the drop in their revenues during the COVID-19 lockdowns, rocketing energy prices and pressure on state budgets.

The European Union is involved in helping GLAM institutions face all these challenges, coordinating expert studies on technical issues, defending budgets for cultural institutions, working on recommendations and exchanging knowledge and experience gathered by museums.

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Published in Climate-ADAPT Nov 17 2023   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Nov 17 2023

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