Many of our museums are housed in buildings that were never designed for that purpose. Listed buildings can provide wonderful, atmospheric locations for visitors to enjoy our rich collections and stories but can be very difficult to heat and insulate. Unsurprisingly, the eco-assessments and thermal imaging carried out for our Green Museums earlier this year identified heat loss as a major source of wasted energy and money at several sites. Leaky windows, doors and roofs are the usual suspects.
The House on Crutches Museum
The volunteer run House on Crutches Museum in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire has identified heating as its top priority for saving energy, reducing bills and becoming more environmentally friendly.
The museum is situated in a remarkable timber framed building which dates back to Elizabethan times. The ‘crutches’ in the house’s name refer to the posts supporting a 17th century extension, giving more space without encroaching on the cobbled street which passes underneath. As you might imagine heating the building and keeping it warm can be quite a challenge!
Progress at the House on Crutches Museum
1. The museum has sought advice from a conservation architect regarding the best techniques to draught proof the windows. There are currently gaps of around 1-1½ inches around parts of the frames and these will be filled using a traditional method in keeping with the building’s appearance.
2. Another source of heat loss is through the chimney. A chimney insulation balloon will be fitted at the end of the visitor season in late September to act as a barrier against this.
3. Finally the curatorial team is exploring temporary insulation that can be used while the museum is closed to visitors during the winter months. They plan to fit blankets to cover all the windows in winter, providing an extra level of insulation.
As well as reducing heat loss and energy use, draught proofing will help to stabilise temperature and relative humidity levels, improving conditions for the preservation of the museum’s collections.
Volunteers are monitoring energy use on a monthly basis so keep following this blog for updates on the savings they make!