Protecting historic interiors from mould

Mould growth on books

PhD researcher Morena Ferreira is improving how interiors and collections in the places we care for are protected from damaging mould outbreaks.

Morena's PhD project will have important implications for how we look after the house interiors and collections we care for, and how we deal with the problem of mould in particular. Supervised by Dr Nigel Blades, Preventive Conservation Adviser, the project is funded by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering for Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA). Morena, who is based at University College London, is working closely with Nigel and his colleagues to develop a preventive measure focused on microclimates with high risk of mould development.  

The problem with mould

Mould growth on interiors and collections is a significant conservation problem across the places we look after. It is estimated that mould is found growing on books in almost 40 per cent of our libraries. It is also disfiguring and damaging to objects such as textiles, furniture, and paintings and requires considerable effort and resource to remove. Extensive mould outbreaks can be hazardous to human health and may require closing off rooms to visitors, needing cleaning by specialist mould removal companies. Current preventive approaches to controlling mould are only partially successful, hence the need for Morena’s project. 

Working in partnership towards a solution

Morena’s research will unlock new preventive strategies for tackling this problem of mould. By sharing her findings with us – through informal updates and advice, publications, and conference presentations – her research is having a real impact on how we look after the interiors and collections in our care.

Archaeological Survey on Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel, Devon

Research at the National Trust 

Collaboration, information sharing and world-renowned research allows the art and historical collections, house interiors and miles of coastline we care for to be preserved for future generations.