What should I think about when lighting display areas?

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Category: Display
Posted by Conservation Answers(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 25 February, 2014 12:36 am

There are many aspects to consider when lighting your display area, and just as many lighting options. From a preservation of your collection point of view, remember as we discussed in the topic on Museum Environment, all light damage is cumulative and irreversible, so try to limit the amount of light to which sensitive items are exposed.

Most museums and small collections use spotlights or fluorescent tubes in display areas. Both of these light sources can produce high light levels. Spotlights can be fitted with dimmers, which will reduce the light levels. Fluorescent tubes have the disadvantage that most produce high levels of UV radiation, which is very damaging to collections. If you have fluorescent tubes in your display, use UV filters to mitigate this. If light levels are too high for safe display of collections, reduce the number of tubes in the fittings.

If you have spotlights, some of the main factors to address are glare, reflections and shadows. To reduce these drawbacks, try to set the angle of the spotlight to about 60° to the horizontal, or ceiling.


To reduce the light levels (lux) on the display, you could:

  • reduce the number of lights
  • use a dimmer
  • increase the distance of the light from the object
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