Data Analysis and Visualizations

File:R logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Melissa has continually been learning the importance of data science as she advances in her career of preventive conservation. Data is everywhere, and conservators can utilize it to better understand complicated systems that effect preservation environments (relative humidity, temperature, light levels, dust accumulation, insect species/life stages, pollutants, etc.). Melissa spent a summer learning Excel and researching predictive modeling at English Heritage and has been learning the R coding language for her research on the buffering capacity of soft-sided crates. Many of Melissa’s recent projects and initiatives have incorporated aspects of data analysis and visualization:

Figure 1. MCI Physical Scientist, Dr. Tim Cleland, helping Melissa learn statistics and R for her soft-sided crate research project

Data Visualization on Museum Floor plans

In 2018, as a second-year preventive conservation major, Melissa was tasked with evaluating the environmental data for the Research Building at Winterthur. Her major goal for monitoring was to understand the performance of the mechanical system for the space, and to determine how well it was staying within Winterthur’s seasonal parameters. Winterthur utilizes E-Climate Notebook to visualize environmental data for nearly all of the rooms in the museum. This displays data as a time-series graph, and parameter set points can be visualized on the graph. It is time consuming to visually count the total number of times the RH or T goes outside of the boundaries, and even more difficult to measure the number of RH swings.

Figure 1. Environmental condition overlay maps for the 3rd and 4th floor of the Research Building made within Adobe Photoshop®

Melissa was having a difficult time grappling with all the data and trying to search out potential patterns that may determine particular problem areas within the building. She experimented with making maps in Adobe Photoshop® of the building that represented the data. She showed these maps to Dr. Rebecca Napolitano (Assistant Professor at Penn State) and Michael Henry (Adjunct Professor in Architecture/Historic Preservation/Mechanical Engineering) during a course in Building Diagnostics, and Dr. Napolitano was able to develop a prototype software using MATLAB adapting Melissa’s visualization technique. This software has continued to be used by other preventive conservation majors and staff at Winterthur, and a scholarly article about its development is forthcoming.

Getty Conservation Institute: Tools for Temperature and Humidity Analysis in Collection Care

In December 2019, Melissa was invited to a small two-day meeting at Winterthur funded by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). Staff within the GCI Managing Collections Environment (MCE) initiative, Annelies Cosaert and Vincent Beltran, were interested in gathering people who had been experimenting with data visualization tools for collections care. The goal for the meeting was to develop a work plan for the creation of freely available tools that display climate data for collection preservation needs. The meeting concluded with a decision to jointly co-author a position paper through the GCI Internal Publications. Melissa contributed to the chapters on Education/Dissemination and Integration with Other Datasets (Non T and RH Tools). The publication is forthcoming.

AIC Wiki on Environmental Monitoring

One of the action items from the GCI meeting (above), was the realization that there are limited tools available to educate collections professionals on temperature and relative humidity data analysis. It was acknowledged that the AIC Wiki might be a good location to create this resource. Following the meeting, Melissa began working on this endeavor with Kelly McCauley Krish, a Preventive Conservation Specialist at the Image Permanence Institute. Kelly and Melissa met regularly through early 2020 to develop an outline for the environmental monitoring section of AIC with the additional support of Annelies Cosaert and Vincent Beltran from the GCI MCE. The next steps for this initiative involves recruitment of volunteers to help edit the Wiki on this section. If you are interested, please contact Melissa.