Museo Altamira

Conservation

Altamiras conservation problems first arose in prehistoric times. The detachments of rock were then at the beginning of their morphology, as was the gradual collapse. The collapse that took place 13,000 years ago destroyed and covered the entrance, ensuring the climate of the internal chamber remained highly stable, thus being extremely favourable to the conservation of the rock art.

This situation changed with the discovery of the cave, due to air entering from the outside and the accompanying oscillations in temperature and humidity. During the 20th century, the construction of walls, paths and electrical installations, as well as the presence of hundreds of thousands of visitors, all contributed to the complete destabilisation of the caves environmental properties, affecting the rock art.

The landscape surrounding the cave of Altamira and the activities carried out there can have a negative impact on the conservation of the rock art. Between 1997 and 2001, preventive measures were adopted to control potential risks derived from harmful uses of the ground and environmental pollution. Land was acquired in the area influencing the cave, country paths and nearby livestock facilities were removed, and the road and access to the museum were moved. This prevented contaminants entering the cave as a result of water filtering through the ground or the atmosphere.

At present, the cave is fully closed to the public. From 2002, an exhaustive research plan for the conservation of the cave has been under way, headed by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, abbreviation in Spanish) and commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, to obtain a better understanding of the operation of the underground dynamic, the behaviour of environmental factors, and microbiological populations

In 2011 an International Committee, composed of renowned specialists in preventive conservation, began work to study the feasibility of providing a restricted number of visitors with access to the cave of Altamira, while safeguarding the conservation of the paintings.

More information:

Available on-line www.rtphc.csic.es/boletin



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