In the current energy and gas crisis, museums are thinking about how they can cope with a lack of gas and electricity in the cold season: whether they have to turn down the temperature in the exhibition rooms or, in the worst case, close the doors.
Anyone who goes to the museum as a visitor uses only part of the total energy. “30 percent of the energy required is used for museum operations or during opening hours,” says Christian Bähler from the Natural History Museum in Bern.
It needs energy for cooling, for the right temperature, humidity, regulation and so on.
He is the head of infrastructure and technology and a member of the executive board. Administration and cleaning require another 20 percent. The upkeep of the collection is what counts for the Natural History Museum. “The collection is relatively energy-intensive. It needs energy for cooling, for the right temperature, humidity, regulation and so on,” says Bähler.
Museums must preserve cultural assets
Maintaining the collection is the central task of all museums. The preservation and preservation of cultural assets is their mandate laid down in the constitution. Simply turning the heating control is not advisable. There is no potential for savings here.
There are still no specific energy saving requirements for museums. This is confirmed by Katharina Korsunsky, Secretary General of the Swiss Museum Association VMS. “We’re missing them at the moment. In Germany they are already one step further. Museums there have to save 15 percent in energy and electricity. There are no such requirements in Switzerland at the moment.”
A major challenge for recommendations is the heterogeneity of museums in Switzerland.
However, possible scenarios are currently being played out at the association. Because people no longer want to be taken by surprise, as in the case of the corona pandemic, says Katharina Korsunsky and adds: “A major challenge here is the heterogeneity of the museums in Switzerland. That makes it much more difficult to provide assistance and recommendations that can apply to everyone.”
Kunsthaus Zürich is energy efficient
At the Kunsthaus Zürich, people are relaxed for the time being. The exhibition area was drastically enlarged here with a generous extension not too long ago. According to press spokesman Björn Quellenberg, energy efficiency was a top priority anyway.
“We have increased energy requirements by 35 percent while increasing the area by almost 100 percent. We cover this 35 percent more energy mainly through geothermal probes and photovoltaics. We are lucky that, as a relatively large house, we are not completely dependent on gas, for example,” says Quellenberg.
Four-stage plan in Bern
Back to the Natural History Museum Bern. There, the management received a four-stage plan for large consumers, drawn up by the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies VSE. “The first step is voluntary measures and austerity appeals. The second step is to reduce energy consumption by around 5 percent. The third step is the reduction by 10 percent. The fourth stage is the shutdown,” explains Chief Technology Officer Bähler.
The four-stage plan of the VSE is only a recommendation. It is unlikely that the lights will go out in Swiss museums in winter.