View Full Version : Light Levels (FC)

07-22-2011, 08:16 AM
Hello All,

Does anyone know of any new information or publications on lighting? Has there been any changes to what is considered standard lighting practices regarding foot candles? Currently we are following the guidelines found in the Museum Registration Methods 5th Edition, but are curious to know what other museums are using. If anyone has any suggestions and or would like to share what foot candle restrictions they are implementing, please feel free to email me directly or share with the entire class. Thanks

Brad Stevens
Chief Museum Preparator
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
University of Oklahoma

T. Ashley McGrew
07-22-2011, 11:26 AM
The main push I have noticed in the area of lighting lately other than the ongoing discussion on the use of LED is a focus on controlled lighting.
A lot of interest in motion controlled lighting of individual objects or by the case, manual switching (sometimes timed) display cases with glazed drawers and even a resurgence in fabric draping some light sensitive framed materials.
I think by and large the established generic 50 lux or 5 foot candle level is still in pretty common use. Sometimes you may have to go lower but it is pretty rare it seems. I will put out the question to the listserve and see what kind of response we get.

Paul Brewin
07-22-2011, 02:22 PM
We aim for 5 fc for works on paper and 20 fc for traditional paintings (although aesthetically it's distracting if a painting is close to a work on paper, but that's another discussion). I'm always curious about how the readings are taken. It's my understanding that you hold a typical light meter sensor with the body parallel with the painting, in other words in a vertical position with the sensor facing the prospective viewer of the artwork. Of course if it's not aligned the readings will vary either higher or lower depending on the angle. Our general rule of thumb is that works on paper can be on exhibit for a 3 month period then are "rested" in storage for 5 years before re-exhibiting them, however a few high interest pieces have been borrowing from their future lifespan and probably should not be shown again for 50 years given their overexposure. It makes a difference too whether your institution has works on view 10 hours a day 7 days a week versus only a few days a week for 5 hours a day. To that end we don't break things down with any math, we just stick to the 5 and 20 rule and works on paper up for 3 months unless otherwise directed by a lender or conservator.