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using desiccants in museum displays helps protect against humidity

The humidity rate inside display cases and containers intended for the conservation of valuable objects and works is a key element in the conservation process.

In these areas, in fact, the important element is not the removal of humidity, but rather the maintenance of a given humidity rate within certain precise levels.

In these situations it is essential to choose the correct product to stabilize the humidity, an example can be the Prosorb cassettes.1

What is PROSORB?

It is a specific dehydrating product based on particular silica gels, technically defined as a humidity stabilizer and is used in all those contexts where it is essentially important to keep the percentage of humidity within a precise threshold, limiting any extreme in the sense of too humid or too dry.

Due to this particular specificity of the product, ProSorb is widely used in the Fine Arts sector, restoration and museum conservation inside display cases and containers.

box of prosorb disidry with different levels of pre-conditioning
Prosorb cassettes are pre-conditioned at different humidity levels.

Where to use it:

PROSorb finds application in all those situations where it is necessary to stabilize the percentage of relative humidity inside display cases or other containers. Prosorb trays are calibrated to maintain a constant humidity rate with different pre-conditionings: 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55% and 60%.

The different pre-conditionings are functional in preserving finds that have different needs based on the material they are made of and other specific characteristics.

utilizzo delle cassettine di prosorb all'interno delle teche museali per mantenere l'umidità relativa stabile

The objects or finds that can be kept are among the most varied: from art objects, ancient books, wooden artefacts, but also collections of insects, finds or ancient banners or any other material which, due to its delicacy or particular historical value- artistic must be constantly kept within an atmosphere of constant humidity.

However, it is essential to use Prosorb in airtight boxes or cases so as to be able to keep the environment in which the stabilizer is working well insulated.

Some information about Prosorb

It’s harmless: the particular silica gel used in this product is absolutely harmless and does not contain chlorides, additives or substances that are harmful, irritating or in any case potentially harmful to objects.

Low abrasion: PROSorb beads produce less dust than other silica gels.

Compact: PROsorb has a high density, 1 kg of PROsorb occupies only the volume of 1.5 Lt.

Long-term stable: PROSorb maintains its absorption capacity longer than other products. After 10 years it was verified that the absorption capacity of PRO SORB had decreased by only about 20% (kept in its unopened package).

Economical: PROSorb is much cheaper than other products sold for the same purpose.

Temperature sensitive: PROSorb is conditioned in relation to temperature. PROSorb reacts in the same way as organic materials, so there will be little or no water vapor transfer between organic materials and PROSorb if the temperature changes. With fluctuating temperatures, this property will protect objects made of wood and other organic materials from swelling or contracting.

What are the areas in which Prosorb is used:

There are many sectors in which this particular type of silica gel finds application. Its peculiar quality of keeping a given percentage of humidity constant allows it to protect and maintain different types of objects both in the display, in the conservation and in the transport of works and artefacts.

Museum area

In museums and in the conservation of cultural heritage it is possible to use Prosorb both to keep works of art or exhibits in the appropriate display cases, or in transport and storage to avoid damage from humidity, fluctuations linked to temperature excursions and changes in environments.

Prosorb can be used in museums
In restoration, Prosorb helps to keep the finds stable and protected from sudden changes in humidity

Restoration and fine arts

In restoration it is useful in those situations where it is necessary to maintain and conserve works of art and artefacts both during processing and in storage.


In the field of collecting, Prosorb can be used to preserve and protect different types of finds, from ancient books, insects, historical documentation, wooden objects, tools, ancient weapons, etc…

Preserve ancient manuscripts using prosorb

The experience of a museum in the use of desiccants

If you do not need to maintain a specific humidity rate constant, you can use other types of desiccants, such as bulk silica gel with color indicator. This particular desiccant is added with a totally non-toxic and cobalt-free dye which varies from yellow to blue to signal the successful saturation of the silica gel crystals.

Silica gel indicating Orange, cambia colore quando esaurito

Thanks to this clear visual indication, it is simple and immediate to understand when the desiccant has run out to its ability to absorb moisture and it is therefore time to replace or regenerate the Indicating silica gel.

In an interview on the use of the Inidcating Orange silica gel, which you find here, the Peccioli Museum recounted its experience in applying this loose dehydrating agent inside a particular display case.

Application of indicating orange silica gel in a display case of the Peccioli Museum
(Interior of the Peccioli Archaeological Museum, © Peccioli Foundation Photographic Archive)

Also in this situation it is essential that the cases in which the finds are kept are sealed, otherwise the continuous passage of humidity from the external environment will render useless the use of any type of desiccant or humidity stabilizer.

PROsorb is offered at different pre-conditioning levels: 35% – 40% – 45% – 50% – 55% – 60% RH (relative humidity), based on humidity stabilization needs and the format varies from boxes medium or large, bags or sheets of various sizes.

The Indicating silica gel, on the other hand, is offered both in bulk and sealed in convenient envelopes, based on specific needs.

You can see or buy the dehydrating products in the shop www.silica-gel.it or visit the section dedicated to museum products.