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Protecting Art From UV Light Rays

Posted by La Tourette's Gallery on 1/17/2020
Protecting Art From UV Light Rays

Everyone wants their home to look good, inside and outside. When it comes to the inside, people often resort to purchasing art pieces. Suppose you are one of them and you finally found the artwork you were looking for. Your job is over, or is it? Just purchasing one isn't enough. A lot of care goes into maintenance. You don't want your expensive artwork to be adversely affected by time. Hence, it becomes necessary to protect them from damage.

Every collector knows the importance of protection of the art pieces from one of their biggest foes - sunlight. Since sunlight comes with a fair amount of UV rays. "Know your enemy," said Sun Tzu. Let us explain how sunlight affects art, incurs art damage, and learn preventive measures regarding the same.

Sunlight - the Biggest Cause of Art Damage

No light means no life. It's a fact. While the very essence of light in art can't be ignored, too much of the same works in the opposite direction. Sunlight has many constituents, one of them being the Ultraviolet rays or UV. It is basically the radiation with a wavelength much beyond that of violet in the spectrum, making it invisible to the naked eye. This UV radiation is harmful since it damages pretty much everything - arts, sketches, photographs, domestic fabrics, etc. Its abundance is much higher in fluorescent light and sunlight.

How can one fight back?

Light is everywhere, so is UV. So how do you fight it? It actually turns out to be easy. It needs some special steps to make sure UV doesn't cause any art damage-

Use UV Filters

These filtering materials help remove the ultraviolet rays from visible light. It is essential to filter UV out, and failing can lead to increased deterioration of artifacts - stored or exhibited. UV filtering materials are commonly placed over the windows permitting sunlight in and/or fluorescent light tubes in museums. Acrylic sheets with UV filter characteristics serve as a practical household solution. They replace glass when the artwork is framed. Acrylite OP-3 and Plexiglas UF-5 are two commonly used acrylic sheets. They're lightweight and shatter-resistant, with each sheet filtering out 98% of UV rays.

Place it smartly

Depending on where the artwork is to be placed, you have to consider different factors that may contribute to art damage. If UV light is one of the chief potential destroyers, it is advised to avoid it. You shouldn't hang the artwork on a wall that receives direct sunlight.

Darkness is your friend

It is necessary to make sure that the archival enclosure meets all required standards, followed by placing it in an opaque box. Once you're done with that, store the box in a cool, dry and dark place. The place has to be in your living space inside your home, and never in the attic or basement.

Pro Tips for Prevention of UV Light Harming Priceless Art Pieces

#1. Avoid Sunlight - Make sure your art piece doesn't face direct sunlight. If the complete absence of light isn't possible, ensure that sunlight is limited to the bare minimum.

#2. Acrylic Plexiglass over Glass - It's not always possible to avoid sunlight. In these scenarios, when you can't do anything about the existing UV radiation, make sure to use acrylic plexiglass and not just glass. The plexiglass is much lighter and reflects almost all UV radiation that falls on it, thus preventing exposure to UV and discoloration of art.

#3. Monitor humidity carefully - Air contains extremely tiny water particles. Thus, make sure humidity is monitored closely. Somewhere around 55° is advised so that it doesn't affect them.

#4. Look, don't touch - There's a reason why museums let you watch their art from a distance. If you have to touch it for some reason, make sure you wear cotton gloves so that you don't stain the piece with your fingerprint.

#5. Use clean glass - It is essential to keep the glass or acrylic sheet clean by using a micro cloth or another non-abrasive alternative.

Protecting Unframed Artwork from Damage

#1. Dust away - Cleaning an unframed artwork is very simple - you dust it up. Do not try to clean by using any harsh cloth or anything of such sort since that risks damage. Just dust away gently.

#2. "Touch me not," said one artwork to another - People often store multiple artworks at once. When they lay flat on a surface, never forget to keep something in between each piece. Do place a 2-ply rag or conservation matboard in between. These separators are to be cut at least 2 inches larger than the artworks. Thus, you can prevent art damage resulting from acid damage, curling up, the formation of creases, etc.

#3. Say no to tube storage - When not ready to hang the art on display, people often store it in cardboard or plastic tubes by rolling it up, which causes the acrylic paint/embellished paintings to stain, crack at places, or dry up. It only reduces the quality by incurring everlasting and unrestorable damages. Hence, it would be best if you always stored them flat, as mentioned above.

#4. Use solander boxes to store - A solander box is essentially an acid-free print box ideal for storage purposes. It is characterized by special hinged front panels. Easily purchasable from conservation suppliers, these boxes are ideal storage options if you're looking to store your artwork.

#5. To be stored in a cool, dark, dry place - This is one line that is often mentioned at the back of pharmaceutical products, food products, etc. "Cool" provides for suitable temperature, "dark" provides for low humidity, and "dark" implies no sunlight or UV radiation. It prevents all sorts of potential damage to your artwork.

Just purchasing art isn't enough; it asks for maintenance. Quality storage makes sure your art lives for generations to come. Some living examples of efficient storage include Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, The Declaration of Independence, The Last Supper, Van Gogh's A Starry Night, and many more. Even after hundreds of years, they shine with the same beauty.

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