Light Damage: Protecting Framed Artwork / Photographs / Collections
While in the midst of working on blogs covering a completely different topic, we recently came across truly stunning examples of the significant & immediate threat caused by light damage. We’re sharing some of the photos we took of this light damage in the hope of preventing it from affecting your framed artwork, photographs, & collections.
If the light damage affecting these All America certificates wasn’t enough, we also came across this recently:
Archival Methods has in fact devoted an earlier blog to light damage (see the link at the bottom of this post), so why update it here?
The reason is simple: rarely have we come across examples of this damage that are so clearly evident—a condition that may be affecting parts of YOUR family archives or collections as you read this—a condition that can cause permanent damage and yet is almost completely avoidable.
Preventing Light Damage: Causes & Solutions
The majority of light damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light.
UV light is present in sunlight (this is the cause of sun-damaged curtains and upholstery fabrics), and in florescent light as discussed above.
Yet preventing this sort of damage is a relatively simple 2-step process.
Preventing Light Damage: Step 1 – Avoid the Source
The first and easiest way to avoid UV light exposure is to keep your framed photographs, artwork or documents out of harm’s way by placing them on walls or shelves where they will not be exposed to sunlight through windows or skylights, or to overhead florescent lighting (see photo above).
It really is that simple.
Preventing Light Damage: Step 2 – Use Filtration
Even if you are diligent about “avoiding the source,” it’s often a good idea to also use “filtration.”
While there are a number sleeves and diffusers that will filter UV light emitted by florescent bulbs, these are generally cumbersome and expensive. As an alternative, using a UV-filtering glazing such as Acrylite OP-3 instead of glass will protect framed works by filtering out 98% of UV light (see photo above).
Complete Frame Kits include a sheet of UV-safe Acrylite OP-3 glazing.
(Please click on either image for more information.)
Acrylite OP-3 is available in precut sheets in 16 standard sizes, from 8 x 10″ up to 30 x 40″, and is perfect for protecting both vintage and contemporary artwork & artifacts from light damage (see photos above).
Gallery 12 Wood Frames. (Please click on either image for more information.)
Preventing Light Damage: Final Thoughts & Other Resources
In closing, perhaps the best way to prevent light damage is to store your artwork, photographs and other such materials in a cool / dry / dark area or closet in your “living space” (i.e. not in your attic or basement) in appropriately-sized archival enclosures and boxes (see photo above).
Yet if you’re planning on displaying some of your materials, as most of us are, always use acid-free mats & the right picture frames / avoid direct sunlight & exposure to florescent lighting / and consider using a UV-filtering glazing such as Acrylite OP-3.
We hope you’ll take a moment to visit our related blog and short video on preventing light damage by clicking on the images below, and will contact us here at Archival Methods for friendly, expert advice should you have any additional questions.
Lastly, for a short summary on light damage from the Library of Congress, please click here.