Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry

Research project

EU project “MEMORI“ – Pollutants in Museums: Development of a dosimeter 

Within the 7th European Research Framework Programme, the EU is supporting an international research project which focuses on the recognition, evaluation and avoidance of airborne pollutants. In addition to the main objective, which is the development of a dosimeter for the assessment of air corrosiveness, the effects of airborne compounds on art and items of cultural heritage should also be investigated. Avoidance strategies should thereby be developed in order to prevent future damage. 

© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Untersuchung adsorptiver Materialien auf ihre Filterleistung

The MEMORI project (Measurement, Effect assessment and Mitigation of pollutant Impact on movable cultural assets – Innovative research for market transfer) is being co-ordinated by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU). A total of 12 work packages from 14 research institutes and museums will be processed, for which a budget of more than 3 million euros has been made available. The German project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg/Bronnbach, and Kultur und Arbeit e.V. <Culture & Work>, Bad Mergentheim. The dosimeter which is to be developed should measure the corrosiveness of the air surrounding cultural assets in exhibition and storage situations.

Two measurement systems form the starting point, both of which were developed in previous EU research projects and which should now be combined to form one device. The so-called EWO sensor (EWO: Early Warning Dosimeter) from the NILU reacts sensitively to photo-oxidising compounds, while the Fraunhofer ISC’s glass dosimeter provides an indication of the impact of organic acids. Together, the two dosimeters are able to detect airborne pollutants which can cause damage to items in collections.

Furthermore, comprehensive studies will be carried out on various materials, such as varnishes, pigments, leather, parchment, textiles and other products containing cellulose, in order to determine the effects of organic acids which are known in the museum sector to be corrosive. These studies should provide new insights into damage mechanisms and enable an assessment on the basis of threshold values.

The development of avoidance strategies regarding airborne pollutants in museum environments is the responsibility of the Fraunhofer WKI. These strategies are based not only upon a cautious selection of materials and decorations, which contribute to the pollution burden, but also the application of adsorbers and the thereby-achieved effective air filtration. For this, the MAIC department from the WKI is examining various adsorption materials regarding their filtering efficiency, both in experimental setups in the laboratory and on-site in museums. Furthermore, air currents inside display cabinets and frames will be visualised.

A further focal point is the storage of collection items under anoxic conditions. A new oxygen sensor, which is to be developed by the Dublin City University, should test the efficiency of oxygen absorbers and anoxic atmospheres in display cabinets.

The knowledge gained through MEMORI, and the developed devices, should then be promptly transferred to the open market. For this, marketing concepts will be developed during the course of the project, and project steps and intermediate results will be discussed with potential end-users. The practical aspects of dosimeters and adsorbers will be tested in renowned European museums, such as the Tate Britain in London and the National Museum in Krakow.


European Commission within the 7th Research Framework Programme