Author: Amanda Pagliarino
In December 2018 the National Council of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM) ratified new environmental guidelines for display and storage of collections – AICCM Environmental Guidelines for Australian Cultural Heritage Collections (2018). In addition the Council endorsed and published, alongside the new guidelines, the Heritage Collections Council – Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions (2002).
Why has AICCM taken the position of endorsing two guidelines? As custodians and caretakers of cultural collections we need to think in local, national and global terms and consequently we should be working with a range of guidelines. In the age of sustainability we can no longer pursue the convenience of a one-size-fits-all temperature and relative humidity convention.
The Australian conservation profession is the beneficiary of the extraordinary work of Professor Colin Pearson (1941-2016), who from the late 1980’s was lobbying the conservation profession to ‘direct more efforts towards the use of passive environmental control and for a reduction in the reliance upon mechanical air-conditioning’ . He did not hold back on his view that, ‘there is unfortunately a neurosis that without air-conditioning museum, gallery, library and archive collections will rapidly deteriorate. This is not the case’ .
In 2002 along with colleagues from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of New South Wales, and the Australian Museum, Professor Pearson published climate-specific guidelines for three different Australian climate zones . The Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions was adopted by Museums Galleries Australia and has since 2008 been referenced in the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries.
Building on this work AICCM has recently ratified its guidelines, following a year of community consultation that included a national survey, case study interviews, conference presentations and newsletter updates. The ratified guidelines expand upon the AICCM Interim Guidelines that were published as part of the appendices to the IIC and ICOM-CC Declaration on Environmental Guidelines (2014). The AICCM Guidelines for Australian Cultural Heritage Collections (2018) incorporate two broad climate types – Temperate and Subtropical / Tropical.
Through the publication of the AICCM Environmental Guidelines webpage we hope to encourage participation in the ongoing work of the Environmental Guidelines Project, to generate discussion and debate about the collection environment, and to support our efforts as a community to move towards sustainable practice in the cultural heritage sector.
 Pagliarino, A. Environmental Guidelines – An Australian Perspective, AICCM Bulletin, 39:1, 19-25, DOI: 10.1080/10344233.2018.1489455, (2018).pp. 20
 Heritage Collections Council, Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions, Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of the HCC, Canberra, (2002). pp. 6.
 (HCC 2002, p.16-17)