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  • 1 Birkbeck College, University of London Chemistry Department 20, Gordon St London WC1H OAJ UK 20, Gordon St London WC1H OAJ UK
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This paper describes the results and conclusions of research directed towards the development and evaluation of a chemical sensor which would provide information on the quality of indoor environments surrounding cultural objects. In our case these objects were paintings housed in major European galleries and the main objective is their preservation through an improved understanding of their microenvironment. The concept was to prepare and expose test tempera paintings which would behave as dosimeters and integrate the environmental response at these locations. Artificial ageing of similar samples was performed to provide a means of calibrating the test paintings. Samples from the test paintings were compared with artificially aged samples and this enabled the sites to be ranked in terms of their suitability for exposure of cultural objects. Additionally, novel methodology involving piezoelectric sensors was designed for monitoring the relative humidity and temperature of the microenvironment of paintings. Dielectric techniques were also used for measuring the effect of relative humidity fluctuations on artists' materials and novel non-invasive dielectric techniques in the microwave region were used for the determination of their moisture content.