Without adopting Conservation Lighting Design
it’s a one way disappearing act!

Part 1

Whether you have a priceless master, a simple reproduced print or one of a plethora of textile items, if you don’t control the lighting levels they are exposed to, you will start to see them fade in color, yellowing, embrittlement and intensity. Furthermore in some cases detail and colors may completely disappear altogether! This process is irreversible, so if this sounds familiar do act quickly.

In my travels as a designer I often see high end galleries, museums and private collectors that are exposing their collections to both harmful daylight and artificial light levels. On occasions the light levels are more than 10 times what they should be!

So this time I thought we would look in a very simple way at conservation lighting. I say simple as this subject has been written about in depth but it can become a very complex subject. Often it can make people just switch off to actually making the changes. So I intend to keep it understandable to the average person.

When you start down the road of conservation lighting design there is always going to be a trade-off between being able to view the object at its optimum while on the other hand keeping it safe for future generations to enjoy.

First of all I like to analyze the environment where the sensitive object is placed.

  • Is there a lot of daylight into the space
  • Does the space get direct sunlight
  • Is there is  a lot ambient light both from daylight and artificial light sources
  • Does the space have any UV light filters controlling the daylighting
  • Which orientation is the space in relation to the daylight (North, E, S, W)
  • Additionally how many hours of daylight enter the space per day
  • What kind of ambient artificial lighting is currently being used and for how long per day
  • Finally what track, light fittings & light sources are being used and for how long per day

All you need to answer these questions is a light meter and a bit of research. However once you’re armed with this information you will probably be shocked by the amount of light your sensitive collections are being exposed to every single day, causing cumulative and permanent damage.

For most sensitive objects you want to be looking at a light level of around 50 lux as anything significantly more than this and it’s time to act. Of course my team and I can perform this light study for you and provide our expert findings as well as lighting design solutions.