Museum Lighting: Its past and future development

James Druzik and Bent Eshøj

Light damage to materials has been known for centuries but a serious study of the permanence of colours began earnestly in the 19th century. Throughout the 20th century, researchers sought to quantify the rate of fading and offer techniques conservators could use to slow deterioration rates. This evolved into controlling light exposure to match the needs of both the objects and the viewer. The information has grown and the expertise to use it made more difficult to master. Of all the environmental parameters that effect museum artifacts, light exposure is arguably the most complex and the only one that is essential to the observer. Recent work has suggested that to manage this combined decay/experience parameter a communal approach is needed. That is to say an approach involving the technical contributions of the entire conservation field working collectively. We suggest that such a communal approach is not only logical but allows the conservation field to address more sophisticated topics of perception and visual performance as well as new technologies in illumination.