Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Customer Profile: Using Data Loggers To Win A Museum Grant

Posted on: July 27th, 2014 by Dickson No Comments


A few weeks ago, a Dickson customer called in to ask a question about the alarm functionality of DicksonOne (page 2 has more info on alarms!). After his question was answered, and as he was just about on his merry way, he mentioned something that made us smile: DicksonOne had helped him win a grant.

This customer was the curator for a small museum in the heart of the country, and had always wanted to update the HVAC and temperature control system in his facility. He had noticed that temperature fluctuations from one room to the next within his museum were unpredictable, especially as his old HVAC system became creakier and creakier. But, as with a lot of museums, money was always tight, so it never happened.

Many artifacts need to be kept in an environment with consistent and safe levels of temperature and humidity, otherwise their deterioration process speeds up exponentially. Next time you are at a large history museum, take a look inside some of the display cases. What do you find? A data logger or temperature sensor. Museums want irreplaceable artifacts, remnants of the past, to stay in their current state as long as possible. Extremely high or low temperatures, or extremely high or low humidity, can cause precious paintings to fade and documents to turn yellow.

This Dickson customer took a leap from antiquated chart recorders and the time-consuming USB data loggers to DicksonOne, which allows users to access their data anywhere. Not only that, but DicksonOne offers robust features like phone, text, and email alarms, a Reporting Suite, customizable device pages, and location management. But most importantly for him, DicksonOne is easy to use. The data is presented clearly, making temperature and humidity analysis a breeze.

Which is what this customer did. He monitored his facility in a few key locations that he thought were getting too hot or too cold, looked at the data, and saw that his current facility was not equipped to handle the volume of artifacts it currently held. So, he gathered all his data and the conclusions that he had drawn, and applied for a grant.

And he won it.

His museum is now getting money for some much needed HVAC updates, which we think is pretty cool.


Museum and Archive Storage: Data Loggers

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by Dickson No Comments

Museum and Archive Storage: Data Loggers (2)


In the past few months, we’ve published two posts on temperature and humidity monitoring in an archive or museum. The first article was a general introduction to artifact storage. In the second article, we offered up some key questions you should ask when crafting your monitoring plan . . .

We said you should know what your budget is, what you are monitoring, what kind of system you want or currently have, the amount of documentation you need, and what kind of analysis you’d like to perform. So you’ve answered those questions to the best of your ability . . . it’s now time to choose how you will monitor your environment.

Data Logger(s)

If your budget is small, you will have to weigh features against number of loggers. This can mean choosing to monitor at a single point with a better data logger, or sacrificing certain features to buy more inexpensive data loggers.
If your budget is a bit more flexible, and your facility large, an environmental monitoring system may be in order. Environmental monitoring systems come in all shapes and sizes (check out DicksonOne on Page 10!), so do some research before you decide to purchase a system. Ask the manufacturer about the set-up process, software costs, and how the system will mesh with your facility’s capabilities.


Choosing a specific data logger can be an arduous process. Data loggers come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ve listed the following features you should ask each manufacturer about before buying. When posing the following questions, you should do your best to relate each feature to how you will use it in your facility.

    • Size & Shape
    • Alarms
    • Sampling Rate
    • Display
    • Memory
    • Battery or AC Power


You’ll need to get all that data off of your device. There are three distinct types of software used in conjunction with data loggers, according to how the data is downloaded. The first is locally hosted software, downloaded onto a single PC. This type of software is used with data loggers that require a manual download of their data. In other words, each data logger must be brought back to your PC, connected, and the data downloaded. You can also choose to host a wireless data logging system locally. This software works in conjunction with wireless data loggers, which send the recorded temperature and humidity data wirelessly to a server in your facility. The final type of software is cloud application software. Using the cloud, a company hosts your data for you, and your data is visible by logging onto a website. We’ve also noted a few features you should consider on the software side of things. They are:

    • Alarms (Emails, Text, and Phone Call)
    • Reports
    • API Access
    • Data Analysis


To view our entire series on museum and archival environmental monitoring, click here.

Museum and Archive Storage: Your Monitoring Plan

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014 by Dickson No Comments


We’ve previously provided you wonderful readers with a glimpse into why a museum or archive would monitor the temperature and humidity inside their facility. Let’s say you are a museum coordinator or archivist, and we convinced you to start monitoring your environment. Or, you already do monitor your environment, but don’t think you are using the correct equipment, or are monitoring it correctly. What now?

Before you get all gung-ho and go out and by a data logger, or giant environmental monitoring system, there are some things you need to hash out first: some questions that you need to consider. After you’ve thought through and answered each of these questions, you will be better prepared to analyze what kind of temperature and humidity monitoring device or system you may need.

1. What is your budget?

Sadly, this is the first question. Figure out how much you have to spend, it will inform your every decision the rest of the way. If you are on a tight budget however, all doors haven’t closed. You still have options!

2. What are you storing, and where are you storing it?

Documents, sculptures, furniture, mummies, dinosaurs? If you are in an archive, you may be storing brittle old documents in a large facility that only you and your coworkers are allowed in. If you an art gallery, you may have nothing in storage, instead everything may be in plain sight of anyone who walks through your door. Also, for all you museums and art galleries, here is something to think about: do you have temporary or visiting exhibits? Many times, these will require additional temperature and RH monitoring.

3. Do you already have a validated, sophisticated, temperature and humidity control system in your facility?

For some, adding temperature and RH monitors will be to have a backup device for your already amazing HVAC control system (we are looking at you, Smithsonian). For others, no control other than a thermostat in the reading room exists. Many of you may be somewhere in the middle. Figure out what your current capabilities are, and then think on how you can assuage those vulnerabilities with further temperature and humidity monitoring.

4. What kind of documentation do you need? What kind of documentation do you want?

Are you required by your governing agency, grantee, city department, or some other auditing body to guard against deterioration? Do you have to validate anything? Museums usually get a lot more leeway in this regard, in respect to other industries that are required to monitor their environment. The second question is more relevant: what kind of documentation do you want? What do you want to know about the temperature and humidity of your environment? Which leads into our next question . . .

5. What kind of analysis would you like to do?

As the concluding question, we feel it wraps things up nicely. What do you want to get out of temperature monitoring? Why do it in the first place? What kind of information do you want to attain, analyze, and then re-attain?

These five questions are crucial to understand before you begin to add data loggers and chart recorders to your online cart. No sure of the answers? Give us a call.  In the next catalog of Dickson Insights, we will tackle some of the answers to these questions, and how those answers can be used to pick the right temperature and RH monitor for you.

Museum and Archive Storage: An Introduction To Data Loggers, Temperature, and Humidity

Posted on: May 2nd, 2014 by Dickson No Comments

Museum and archive storage is important. How important? Well, the minds behind the underrated Ocean’s 12 thought it so important they included this scene at the end of their movie:

(Yes, that was my best attempt to include a clip from one of my favorite movie series.)

At Dickson, we don’t make lasers to safeguard rare artifacts against the greatest thieves in the world. Instead, we make data loggers and chart recorders that measure and record temperature, humidity, and water pressure. Not nearly as sexy or cool, but possibly more important.

Works on Paper

While I thought long and hard about inserting a video from National Treasure staring Nicholas Cage for this section, I didn’t (The ending of National Treasure 2 forced my hand). In that movie, Nicholas Cage tries, and succeeds in stealing the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is currently housed in a bullet proof case, which is both temperature controlled and filled with argon gas to guard against decomposition.

Let’s dwell on that last sentence a bit. Over time, paper decomposes. Next time you are in your someones basement or attic, take a look and see if you can find any old paperback books lying around. The pages are yellow, right? This happens to paper over time, specifically if it is stored in an unstable environment.

While the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Magna Carta, and the Mona Lisa are extreme cases of document preservation, there are countless museums and archives around the world housing documents that they want to preserve for longer than 20 years.

They key to achieving this is temperature and humidity control. Those two things, above all else, will help shape a rare documents life in a museum or archive. The Library of Congress offers this advice [LINK]:

Good storage significantly prolongs the preservation of paper materials and includes:

  • A cool (room temperature or below), relatively dry (about 35% relative humidity), clean and stable environment (avoid attics, basements, and other locations with his risk of leaks and environmental extremes).

And that is where data loggers come in. Data loggers, temperature sensors, and temperature alarms help museums and archives across the world store their documents safely. Here are a few examples:

  1. When an traveling art exhibition moves from one museum to the next, the owners of that art want to be sure that it is kept out of environmental extremes. Data loggers allow the hosting museums to prove to the owners that their works of art were kept at safe temperatures and humidity.
  2. In case of emergency, data loggers are your cheapest insurance policy. When a heater or air conditioning unit fails, wireless data loggers can send you text, email, and phone call alerts as soon the environment your documents are in is above a certain threshold.

Be on the lookout for more information from us on museum and archival storage!


The Dickson Archives: Monitoring Campus Temperature and Humidity

Posted on: August 13th, 2013 by Dickson No Comments

The Dickson Archives

Campus Facility Maintenance Magazine, Fall 2007

The Dickson Archives is a running series of blogs which examines Dickson’s successful past in an attempt to see how much we’ve changed, how data monitoring has changed, and if anything has stayed the same. To see other articles in this series, go to our From the Dickson Archives Blog Category.

The Who (not the band):

Dickson appeared in a 2007 issue of Campus Facility Maintenance Magazine, “The Exclusive Information Source for Campus Operations Excellence.”

From a little research, I was able to find out/assume that Campus Facility Maintenance Magazine was formerly published within the entity and Cygnus Business Media. Back in 2007, Campus Facility Maintenance Magazine was in full stride, and Dickson appeared on pages 33 and 34.

The article was written by current Dickson VP of Marketing, Chris S., and hats off to Chris, the article holds up extremely well (remember, the first iPhone was released in 2007).

Campus Monitoring

The What:

The article is titled, “Keeping an Eye on Campus Facilities’ Temperatures and Humidity.” In the article, Chris shows the importance of monitoring temperature and humidity within a college campus. As someone who just got done battling poor ventilation in lecture halls for four years, I couldn’t agree more.

Chris breaks up his article to display some key factors facility managers should take into consideration when monitoring the various areas of a campus. He discusses chart recorders versus data loggers, alerts and alarms, data handling, and calibration. As he works through the various decisions a campus facility manager must make when deciding what to monitor with, he provides a larger narrative of the challenges of monitoring a college campus. Namely, that facility managers must research to find the best fit for their needs, always being wary of recording too little data, or too much. Chris asks you to find the happy middle.

What has stayed the same:

From dining halls to biology labs to large lecture halls, Chris’s final point, “There is no one instrument (data logger or chart recorder) that will be an appropriate temperature and humidity monitoring tool throughout the campus,” still rings true.

Dickson has diversified its product line specifically with these challenges in mind. We offer the widest selection of data loggers and chart recorders, which allows us to offer the best solutions for campus facility managers. Don’t believe me? Check out our product line, or call one of our representatives at 1-800-757-3747. We can find not only something that will fit your application, but the thing that will fit your application.

What has changed:

Chris makes numerous interesting observations, but one in particular struck my eye. He states, “It’s often especially useful in larger campuses to look for data loggers that are capable of storing data on the same type FLASH memory cards that we now are familiar with in digital cameras.” This statement is slightly outdated with the rise of wireless technology, but the ideology of making the retrieval of data consistent is still important, if not more important today.

What has changed since 2007, is DicksonOne, Dickson’s wireless data logging system. DicksonOne makes data retrieval consistent and seamless. For example, when monitoring one dorm’s HVAC system, having all of the data under one roof (that’s not even close to being a good pun) allows for facility managers to see the inconsistencies from one room to the next, and analyze possible problems without ever having to manually retrieve data. Furthermore, entire departments, even entire campuses, can be under the same data monitoring roof.

Conceptualizing on a smaller scale

Let’s say a University’s Rare Book Room’s temperature starts to rise because of an HVAC malfunction. For the invaluable documents (sometimes over a thousand years old). . .not good.

In the past, temperatures would be checked once a day or once a week, and when you came in to work after the HVAC malfunction, a painting was a little more withered, or a famous journal was now unreadable.

DicksonOne helps prevent these problems. By setting alarms for each data logger or each location, that invaluable painting in the University Archives, or hydrogen-palladium solution in the Chemistry Building will never be compromised. The communication between data loggers is no longer about FLASH memory, but about the wireless integration and automated communication of devices to you, saving you time, and saving you money.

Dickson has come a long way in six years. I’m writing this on a blog, but in 2007, I’m not sure if I knew what a blog was. You can visit the DicksonOne website for more information on the recent development.