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Air filtration display opens at Carnegie Science Center

PITTSBURGH — The role of air filters in the fight against COVID-19 is the focal point of a new pop-up display at Carnegie Science Center.

The museum’s exhibit design and fabrication team worked with Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, to create HEADS UP!, a signage display about how HVAC acts as a face mask for the building’s air circulation.

“As an advocate for science literacy, we saw the pandemic as an opportunity to combine a message about real research, current events and museum collections in one place — in this case, literally above our heads in the HVAC system,” said Dennis Bateman, director of exhibits at the science center. “We didn’t want to just dwell on the pandemic when our visitors are coming to enjoy themselves as an escape from the stress in our lives now, but we did want to reassure them about our precautions while they are here, and connect research to real-world examples, like how a system originally designed to protect our valuable collections is now also protecting our valued guests and staff.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh facilities team has made it a priority to monitor all HVAC systems, regularly checking all air filters in museum buildings to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Most of the buildings’ HVAC units (there are 65 separate units across all four museums) have multi-layer filtrations.

The facilities team has increased the amount of outdoor air introduced into all ventilated areas by up to 15 percent, which further improves ventilation in office and gallery spaces. The exceptions are certain climate-controlled art galleries and collection-storage areas. The team periodically sprays air filters with an anti-microbial viricide to ensure that circulated air in the buildings is sanitized before it is blown into office and non-art gallery spaces.

Due to local and national health department guidance, the science center building occupancy is limited to 15 percent. Timed dvance tickets can be purchased at CarnegieScienceCenter.org/pricing.

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