Case Studies

Art Gallery Of Ontario


Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Owner/Operator: Art Gallery of Ontario

HGC Engineering was contracted by the AGO to investigate potentially problematic vibration on a then recently-constructed display wall intended to feature paintings associated with the  “Impressionism In The Age Of Industry” exhibit that the Gallery would be hosting. Of particular concern was vibration, perceptible to the touch, on one painting hung from a display wall.

Work previously undertaken by the AGO had shown that there was an audible noise present in the gallery, which was observed to be radiated by the vibrating display wall. This noise was possibly connected to the operation of two kitchen exhaust fans. Sound level measurements were conducted near the display wall, with and without the kitchen fans and selected ventilation fans in operation.

Vibration measurements were conducted on the floor at the foot of the wall, on the face of the wall itself, on a plywood sheet intended to mimic the painting on display (which had been removed pending the investigation results), and also on another nearby wall supporting another artwork.

Our investigation was concerned with the potential response of artworks, and not human response, to vibration. As such, in terms of criteria specific to paintings, AGO staff provided us with a Canadian Conservation Institute vibration velocity limit of 3 mm/s. This limit is similar to one described in a paper: Vibration Mitigation and Monitoring: A Case Study of Construction in a Museum, which outlines various vibration limits from other papers for artifacts and artworks.

A limit of 3mm/s peak is also consistent with various guides intended to protect heritage or other sensitive buildings from adverse effects of construction vibration. Noise and vibration measurements were made near the display wall, and with the kitchen exhaust fans on and off. Perceptible vibration and audible noise caused by the operation of the kitchen exhaust fans were found to be present in the gallery, on the floor of the gallery, on the face of the wall, and on the painting. None of the measured vibration was found to exceed the 3 mm/s peak velocity limit.

All in all, the measured data and the criteria did not reveal vibration on the display wall at levels considered problematic for artwork. The measurements and analysis confirmed that the vibration response of both staircases performed well within the criteria.

Acoustical Engineering Services Included:

  • Noise and Vibration Investigation
  • Sound Level Measurements
  • Vibration Measurements
  • Structural Vibration Assessment
  • Noise Assessment

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