Old Curatorial Archive

Curator’s Advent. Day 8. Light and UV

Two identical coasters showing the effects of UV and sunlight damage
Left: on a window sill. Right: Not on a window sill*

Few of us use the p-word any longer – perpetuity but it would be nice if our museum objects could weather at least a few generations’ worth of abuse. Some wavelengths of light, especially sunlight, and ultra violet greedily snatch colour away from many of our written, painted, printed and dyed objects. This may reinforce the idea that the past really was all black, white, beige and grey. While a museum object kept permanently in the dark is of as much use to the curator as an empty box of teabags, let’s be grateful for those who assiduously protect our colourful heritage. *No real museum objects were harmed in the writing of this post.