Risk Management > Light > Artificial Lights

Lighting, floor, study, first floor, Château sur Mer
Historic light bulb exhibit, basement, The Elms.
Reproduction historical light bulb, basement, The Elms.
Period lighting, second floor, The Elms.
Period lighting, pastry room, basement, The Elms
Lighting for events, balcony, The Breakers.

Artificial Lights



The exhibit lights as used in Green Animals and Rosecliff provide another source of illumination that needs to be monitored and evaluated. Fiber optical lighting is the preferred method for lighting case interiors and is recommended as a goal for all house exhibits. While working towards this goal, a stepped plan to cover existing fluorescent light tubes with a UV absorbing film/sleeve is recommended. They eliminate light spectrum emissions from 400 mw and below and maintain the ultraviolet emissions at the high range of an acceptable level of 75 mw. In order to insure correct levels are maintained, light fixtures need to be checked with every change of bulb for UV emission levels. A warm color temperature as opposed to a standard “cool white” tube is aesthetically pleasing for the visitor and enhances exhibition features. When seeking new fluorescent tubes, consider different vendors. For instance, Phillips manufacturers a fluorescent tube (Phillips 37) with a built in UV absorbing film. These are the only maker of non-specialty fluorescent tubes that offer this as a standard feature. Other manufacturers such as GE and non-name brands do not.

Specialty vendors offer more expensive products that often have built in UV shields and emit a specific color spectrum that enhances exhibits. Should brands without UV shields be substituted in the future as bulbs burn out, a UV filtering plastic sleeve must continued to be used. They can be purchased from a museum supplier. They must be checked for emissions as with all light sources on an annual basis. A UV monitoring device can be purchased for $1800+.
Traditional interior case mounted light fixtures also emit a level of light that is too high for prolonged exposure to collections as proscribed by current professional standards. The most effective means is to remove the light sources from the cases where feasible and to substitute museum quality spot lights positioned more than 10’ from the face of the case. This has the added benefit of removing a heat source from the case and allows the case environment to become more stabile.

Throughout the individual houses seasonal dark days make viewing difficult for the visitor. While houses such as Kingscote utilize stronger wattage bulbs during the winter season, another option to consider are specialty exhibition spot lights. Spot lights set a minimum of ten feet from the objects with heat deflectors and diffusing covers, often augment a room lighting scheme quite successfully when part of an overall room light plan. These lights are available in different wattage, beam width formats, heat shields and diffusing filters that enhance an exhibition.

Even lighting within an exhibition setting is difficult to achieve when combining daylight with artificial light because of the variable “spot” levels for which the eye must compensate. The eye has an extraordinary ability to regulate itself from a very bright 20,000 fc. to a dim 3 fc. if given the proper transitional timing and setting as the visitor comes from the bright outdoors to the dimmer indoor setting. With this in mind, as a medium term goal, plan to initiate a lighting assessment with a professional exhibition or lighting designer, working towards a goal to redesign gallery lighting systems. Many of the exhibits are suited to fiber optic lighting design. Fiber optic lights are recommended especially in the period rooms and enclosed casework.


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