Agent of Deterioration: Light, Ultraviolet and Infrared
Source: Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI)
We need light in order to see collections, but light damages some objects. In terms of risk management trade-offs, we must make a decision that minimizes the loss of value due to poor visual access and the loss of value due to permanent damage. In terms of ethics and visual access, we must balance the rights of our own generation with the rights of all future generations. In terms of practical reality, we must generalize across a multitude of such decisions because objects differ in both their sensitivity to light and their visibility. In addition, display spaces in many museums depend on highly variable and poorly controlled lighting. This section examines the components of these decisions and offers some summary guidelines. However, the painful dilemma never disappears — seeing collections well today, and seeing them “well” in the future.