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Fiat Lux!

May 8, 2017

Let there be light - but it must be the right sort.

Only in England comes to us from the Science Museum Group, specifically the National Science and Media Museum. National museums have the responsibility of caring for incalculably precious artefacts and their conservation standards are, inevitably, very high indeed. One of the challenges we have in bringing this exhibition to our venue is that of meeting the exacting environmental parameters required by the conservators. Light is one factor we have been working on. Generally we worry about adequately lighting the work shown in our exhibition space - concerned not to leave anyone in the shade, as it were. It just got a whole lot more complicated.


UV or not UV

One of the first things we learned was that we would have to eliminate all ultraviolet (UV) light. UV is a conservator's worst nightmare. It's what makes your curtains fade and your wedding photographs on the wall turn strange colours. It's what damages your skin in the summer months. All of the gallery windows have now been fitted with a special film which blocks virtually all UV light while still allowing most visible light to pas through unimpeded. In other words, the film is practically invisible as far as we are concerned.


So far, so good. 


Palace Arts Gallery was not designed and fitted out as a gallery. It was designed as office/studio space. It is equipped with contemporary bright lighting such as is found in offices the length and breadth of the land. This lighting, unfortunately, is mostly fluorescent tubing. Fluorescent tubes supply plenty of visible light. They also throw out a lot of UV light. The upshot of this is that we can not use our installed lighting during Only in England. 


Adjusting the levels

It's not just UV light we have to be concerned with. The Only in England photographs must also be protected from an excessive amount of visible light. In fact, they need to be kept in what we would usually consider to be rather dim conditions. We soon discovered that with all our electric lights turned off, due to the expansive windows the gallery has, notwithstanding the fact that they face North, there was still too much light towards the front of the gallery. And too little at the rear.


All the above explains why gallery visitors today will have observed David assembling a series of new lights fitted with LED bulbs.


These are all controlled by a wireless dimmer switch and should allow us the measure of control we need to get the right light levels. Although Mark looks a little puzzled here, the wireless control was easily mastered by Bev.

In order to cut down the light coming in at the front of the building, Graham initially seemed to have decided that what we needed was a series of brooms with fabric hanging from them...

 ...an idea which was soon refined somewhat and he, James and Bev spent the afternoon beginning to install our window screening system.

 We still have some more to do tomorrow but we are well on the way to having this fixed. Huge thanks to Bev, David, Graham and James for their help today!



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