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Monitoring Light: A Key part of preservation within our Galleries

20 April 2022

Our Collections Team play a hugely important role in looking after our large collection and archives. One of their regular tasks is to ensure that all objects on display in our galleries do not undergo any sped-up deterioration due to their surrounding museum climate.  To do this, they carry out a range of preventive conservation measures, such as pest management, environmental control, and light monitoring.

To protect our collections from long-term exposure to high and fluctuating lux levels, the team monitors light levels and UV radiation in the galleries and archives, as light can potentially severely damage materials.

Image: Using a light meter’s sensor to measure the light hitting the surface of a paintings

 

Every month, our conservator walks around our galleries and archive to take spot readings with a light meter in the space around all collection items that are categorised as light sensitive. The light meter has a digital screen that gives her a spot reading of the light levels measured in lux. These spot readings are added to a monitoring form to help her analyse and understand the surroundings of light sensitive collections. Regular monitoring helps her trace down problem areas and possibilities for improvements.

Image: Using a sensor to measure the light hitting the surface of our Victory Model in Command of the Oceans.

 

The Collections Team has already taken measures to decrease the possibility of light damage by installing LED lights and by keeping the light levels as low as possible. However, the latter can sometimes create a more challenging environment for visually impaired visitors. Therefore, it is important to frequently monitor the light levels to be able to flag collections with feasible risk of light damage and possibly move them from display and put them back into our dark museum storage rooms so they can “get some rest” or be replaced with less light sensitive objects.

Image: Using a light sensor to measure the light hitting the surface of one of a display.

 

With thanks to Karoline-Sofie Hennum, Conservator, for writing this blog.

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