An art exhibition is typically thought to include the work of artists and artisans presenting their drawings, paintings, and sculpting to an audience in a viewing gallery. Architecture is used and integrated into an exhibit when the structure is built for a specific art show space.
Whether an art exhibit is showing the present work of one individual artist or a traveling group featuring a thirty-year retrospective of computer animation using mixed media, the exhibition environment is controlled in order to preserve the art objects through time without adding to the normal degradation process.
The materials used by an artist in an art exhibition determine the necessary environmental controls. Normally art objects are best kept cool in the mid to low fifty-degree level. Materials such as vellum and parchment are especially susceptible to changing humidity levels. Inks and pigments which are water-soluble also require humidity control as well as transfer protection using impermeable barrier casing.
De-humidification and air conditioning are used together to maintain consistent levels of moisture and temperature. More sophisticated exhibition spaces will use zone control sensors that will adjust a specific area while maintaining overall temperature and humidity control. Light intensity and UV radiation are especially destructive to paper, pigments, and ink. Light is necessary to properly observe and appreciate art but they need to be in low light or total darkness when not being viewed. UV filters are helpful but give a false sense of security as they only block less than ten percent of UV radiation.
Art objects corrode when they come in contact with materials that are off-gassing. That new car smell is an example of off-gassing. Pollution absorbers like silica and activated carbon are essential tools when seeking to stop corrosion of art objects from the effects of off-gassing.
An exposure log is helpful in assessing artwork for the show. Knowing the exposure level of a piece can determine its future life. If a piece is at a critical point a facsimile may be substituted in its place.
The art exhibition has no limits. The fruits of human creativity will continue to be shown to appreciative audiences. As each new media is used in the creation of art we will find ways of controlling the environment and preserving our creations.