On October 21-22, 2002, the GCI Science department hosted a meeting of experts to discuss museum lighting—in particular, lighting for old master works of art on paper. Attending the meeting were conservators, conservation scientists, curators, and lighting engineers from Canada, England, New Zealand, and the United States.
For many collecting institutions, there is keen interest in maximizing the display of old master drawings, while at the same time employing measures that will continue to preserve them while on exhibit. During the two-day meeting, discussions concentrated on five questions with respect to the lighting of old master drawings:
- Could a light source be designed that would be safer and/or provide longer exhibition periods than any current lighting system?
- Could a light source be designed that has comparable or superior color-rendering capabilities to existing lighting systems?
- How could the damage potential of alternative light sources be better assessed?
- Could a new light source be built—and would it be supported by a manufacturer and distributor over the long-term?
- Whether or not a new light source could be feasibly made at this time, could the display environment be significantly improved to reduce photochemical damage to light-sensitive artifacts? Is an oxygen-free environment the only way this can be done?
By the conclusion of the meeting, the group had identified five to seven possible research projects that would address these questions and that could ultimately lead to better protection for old master drawings on display. The research identified would focus primarily on issues of light filtration and anoxic environments. Meeting participants are currently preparing proposals for these projects.