Siemens' is helping to protect the valuable exhibits in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, one of the largest and most important in the world, from damage by smoke and fire.
Housing irreplaceable collections assembled over centuries as a result of the preferences and interests of the Habsburg dynasty (rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire), the magnificent Italian, renaissance-inspired building is a truly monumental setting for the imperial treasures.
The riches in the museum's eight collections (which are also partly housed in the Neue Burg section of the Hofburg Imperial Palace as well as Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna) include artifacts from ancient Egypt, antiquities from the Middle Ages and more modern times up to the year 1800 - with Renaissance and Baroque art being a special focus for the museum.
The art museum in Vienna has triple protection against smoke and flames in each zone/room: Siemens beam detectors (also known as linear smoke detectors) mounted directly under the ceiling transmit infrared light, invisible to the human eye, across the room to detect any smoke particles in the air at an early stage. Point-type smoke detectors mounted on the ceiling and flame detectors that respond to the fluctuations in light - that are characteristic of flames - provide additional cover. The two large stairwells in the Kunsthistorisches Museum are protected by radio (wireless) fire detectors. Information from the various detectors is analyzed in two sub centers (in the roof and basement) and evaluated in the in-house safety center. Fire-doors held open by magnetic catches are triggered to close automatically in the event of a fire, in order to prevent the fire from spreading.
"The old system was getting increasingly difficult to operate and maintain," says Kurt Hofer, Fire Officer at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. "Siemens simply offered the best package with its many years of experience, state-of-the-art technology and long-term service offer. Cooperation with the Siemens meant that installation went off without a hitch - and without interrupting the museum's routine," Kurt Hofer continues.
Even in the most difficult, ambient conditions, the Advanced Signal Analysis technology developed by Siemens for optimal detection reliability, practically rules out unwanted alarms. The ASA technology is used in Sinteso S-line detector range which includes neural multi-sensor detectors, wide-spectrum smoke detectors, heat detectors, flame detectors and beam detectors. When adjusted to the specific ambient conditions, the technology dynamically evaluates signals within the selectable detection response.
Another distinctive advantage that the Siemens' system offers is the possibility to deactivate the fire detectors individually. It is possible to disarm specific devices whenever the need arises - such as when carpentry work, welding or similar work being carried out in any of the zones causing dust and smoke to rise. "This is a big improvement over the old system, because deactivation is now simple and precise," concludes Kurt Hofer.
In historical buildings, aesthetics and minimizing the impact on the museum interior has to be considered carefully. The widespread use of Sinteso technology for the change meant that no additional cables had to be laid in the visitor zones and the impressive building could largely be left unaffected.