The Science of Light Damage

sun

sunLike sun will damage your skin, light on museum objects will cause colors to fade and material to crack and turn brittle. What’s going on? Light wave energy triggers destructive chemical reactions. Since light damage cannot be reversed, protecting our collections is critical. In a museum setting, you like to see the objects, and our conservators want to protect those objects. Our compromise is to keep light levels as low as possible, yet bright enough for you to see.

How does light cause damage?

wavelengths

Light is energy that exhibits wave and particle characteristics but has no mass.

Learn how to control light levels.

For more information, email conservation@smm.org.

Back to Agents of Deterioration