If anyone recognizes and appreciates trends over time, it’s people involved in historic preservation. We see the changes in everything; fashions, tools, transportation, housing, toys, and more. One current trend that I think is important to pay attention to is in the area of lighting.
So many museums, both large and small, continue to use display furnishings that are lit using single source illumination. Often, that kind of lighting is heat producing, negatively affecting any artifacts that it’s near. In addition, because the quantity of light decreases over even small distances, such as the from the top of a display case to the bottom, artifacts on lower shelves hide in the shadows.
My local historical society doesn’t have a large budget for displays, but that doesn’t mean that the flow of artifacts coming in is in any way diminished. The society never says no to a resident who decides to donate a personal family heirloom. Display cases that they purchased on the cheap came with no lighting at all and it was on the to-do list for a long time to install something to remedy that. The solution was bright and cool-running LED lighting. The chosen type was what some call “rope” or “ribbon” lighting; economical to purchase, easy to install, and low-cost to operate. Attached to the inside frame of the display case, along the sides and bottom, it provides ample and even lighting. Some light kits permit the light to be dimmed, and with the addition of a timer, the whole process of lighting becomes automatic.
If you’ve solved the lighting challenge in a different way, or you want more detailed information of how my historical society solved theirs, send an email and I’ll be sure to respond back.