Sustainable Concepts for Museums, Depots and Archives

Renovating museums sustainably

A museum basically has to serve two purposes: On the one hand, the building for showcasing the collections and works of art must offer a high level of comfort for visitors and staff, particularly through the room program, interior design, thermal building envelope, lighting and acoustics. Ideally, these aspects should harmonize with the presentation of the collections on display, resulting in an overall aesthetic effect of architecture and art mediation. On the other hand, the museum must also comply with preventive conservation issues, i.e. the building must protect and preserve the collection on display. Preventive conservation in a museum building focuses on optimal conditions for the works of art inside it. This applies not only to architectural aspects, i.e. the building structure, but also to the design and conception of the interior. Key topics include climate control, the use of daylight and artificial light, the avoidance of harmful substances, safety, fire prevention and building protection, emergency plans and, of course, how museum visitors are treated. In today's world, however, the topics of energy and sustainability are also becoming increasingly important. Only if holistic, sustainable and efficient strategies are developed for new museum buildings and for the renovation of existing ones can the preservation of art and cultural assets be ensured in the long term. Preventive conservation is thus also, to a certain extent, the interface between users and the planners of a museum building.

At Fraunhofer IBP, one of the main research areas is the development of sustainable solutions for museums, depots and archives, with a particular focus on the development of resource-conserving climate concepts that are compatible for the buildings and the collections inside them. This includes assessing energy efficiency while taking the museum's climatic requirements into account, developing minimally invasive and decentralized air-conditioning solutions and low-energy concepts for small and medium-sized museums (project “Temperature Control in Museums”), and also designing and optimizing the existing technical building equipment. In order to evaluate energy efficiency, first of all the energy consumption with regard to the indoor climate and the conditions for preventive conservation must be ascertained. One of the methods we use to evaluate new air-conditioning and heating concepts is the energy evaluation method according to DIN V 18599.

Concepts for museums, depots and archives

The Fraunhofer spin-off ModulDepot GmbH has set itself the task of designing new types of depots and archives. It focuses on developing sustainable and modular building concepts for buildings that house depots and archives.

  • Cost analyses
  • Energy efficiency
  • Preventive conservation and safety
  • Passive climate concepts
  • Development of innovative wall constructions
  • Implementation of pilot projects

Areas of expertise

  • Conservation skills regarding climate data analysis, technical building equipment
  • Moisture and thermal control, emergency plans, operating safety, light protection and lighting in museums
  • Determining individual, collection-specific, climatic zones
  • Energy supply concepts
  • Minimally invasive and decentralized air conditioning systems
  • Acoustics in museums
    • Room acoustics in museums
    • Sound insulation between exhibition rooms
    • Auralization for museums
    • Evaluating “sound showers”


  • Building simulations (WUFI®, TRNSYS)
  • Light simulation
  • Data acquisition with IMEDASTM
  • Evaluating the energy efficiency of museum buildings according to DIN V 18599
  • Air exchange measurements with tracer gas
  • High-resolution IR thermography
  • Acoustic measurement methods (impact sound transmission, reverberation time, etc.)




Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt

Concepts for renovating a museum.



A modular low-energy storage facility

Calculation of hygrothermal effects on the climate in depot rooms.