Optimum Climate for mounts?

Submitted by Rich on 11/18/1998.

( )

Any opinions out there regarding the best temperature and humidity ranges for mounts (not freeze dried) to help ensure maximum longevity. I try to impart on my clients the importance of avoiding temp and humidity extremes (e.g. garages, unfinished basements or attics, woodstoves) esp in the winter months. I've never spoken with anyone in the museum industry about this but my hunch is a climate of around 70 deg F and 40-50% RH to be acceptable. Opinions?

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If I'm Comfortable With It...

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/20/1998.

( ArtistExpr@aol.com )

Hey Rich,

If I'm not mistaken, the "ideal" range for a mount would be between 65 and 72 degrees, with a humidity level of 30-40% humidity.
Personally, I am very "reactive" to this type of climactic thing and to me, if I'm comfortable with the climate, the mounts should be okay! This is a real concern in my mind as I plan for our first trip to Africa. I know the hot days are going to be uncomfortable for me, but the cool nights will be heaven!

The biggest problem with a mount that is exposed to the extremes of weather related humidity and temperature fluctuations, is the softening and re-drying of the hide of the mount. This is also called the expansion and contraction of the hide. This in itself is not a good thing.

Combine this with the additional problem of the skin absorbing moisture thus reacting in an adverse way with whatever salts may be in the leathered hide, as well as the possible "oxidation" of a hide tanned with an aluminum sulphate tan. In extreme cases, this will cause a conversion to a sulfuric acid which will weaken the structure of the skin. This is referred to as "dry-rot". Again, this is in EXTREME cases.

Part of a good hedge against this, besides good temperature/humidity control, is regular "maintenance" of the mount. The best thing to do, is to prevent the accumulation of dust on the mount. A healthy layer of dust is unhealthy for the mount, in that it can allow for the "holding-in" of moisture within this layer.

Once a week or so, carefully vacuum the mount using a dusting-brush attachment, going with the growth of the hair or fur. Do not press down too hard on the coat - you don't want to drive the dust down into the coat of the mount.

Following this, I spray a light mist of a store-brand version of "Lemon Pledge" onto the coat, let it sit a couple of seconds, then wipe it off with a white terrycloth "detailing" towel.
This will remove any dust the vacuum missed, as well as imparting a nice sheen to the coat of the mount.

Needless to say, if the mount is in a smoke-filled environment, no amount of regular maintenance will keep it from eventually discoloring to a nicotine-induced shade of sickly yellow!

That being said, I hope this has shed some light on this issue for you. Good luck to you. John B.

Thanks, John

This response submitted by Rich on 11/20/1998.

( giordanengo@siskiyous.edu. )

John, thank you for the helpful information. I think hot
and dry can be just as damaging as cool and moist. Heaven
forbid fluctuations between the two! Rich

Too Dry Can Be Too Bad...

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/21/1998.

( ArtistExpr@aol.com )

Yes, it is a pretty "ify" thing - trying to keep the atmosphere in a home "just right" - to quote baby bear:)

You're correct in the statement that too hot and dry is as bad as...
In a climate that is too dry, the oils in the hide can literally be "sucked" out of the hide, creating cracks and splits.

This is very often the case with mounts kept in a smoked-in area. The dry smoke will have the same affect on the hide, besides the awful discoloration.

A good "medium" range is what I try to produce. We can only try our best. Later.. John B.

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