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As heritage institutions seek to use their collections and buildings in ways never previously considered to engage audiences and raise income, this often has the unintended consequence of increasing vibration exposure, e.g. increased transportation, construction works or hosting music events near collections. The impact of vibration exposure is believed to be cumulative: changes may not be visible until the onset of major damage or catastrophic failure. There is thus a very real, urgent need to improve understanding of the impact on collections of repeated exposure to vibration from a variety of sources and how to minimize the associated risk. This project focuses on improving understanding of the risks of direct exposure of Old Master paintings to music- or sound-induced vibration. It extends the work of a current Oxford/NG CDP student focused on structure-borne vibration (e.g. from construction or activities held outside a heritage institution) but vibration associated with sound/music in the same room as artefacts complicates the situation, with the potential for vibration to travel through air and impact directly. While questions remain regarding vibration-induced failure mechanisms in paintings and the role of different transmission pathways for sound vibration, it is clear that sound exposes paintings to a mechanical load that can cause vibration and thus potentially damage. Further, the most common metric available to heritage organisations - simple sound level measurements - is not a good indicator of the impact on collection materials. A further complication is that the impact is highly dependent on factors such as the construction, size and contents of the room, and the location and mounting of speakers.

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