Best practices from Historic New England experts
Controlling light is an old issue with houses. Historically builders have gone to great lengths to bring natural light and ventilation into a house, particularly prior to the advent of electric lighting. On the other hand, it is important to protect the house and its contents from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, which cause degradation to fabrics, papers, paints, and plant materials.
Shutters, awnings, and deep porches are a few of the architectural features used in the past to control light. Today these low-tech methods are still appropriate for some historic houses, but where these features were never present, we can take advantage of newer materials in various installations.
Ultraviolet Protection Topics
Basic guidelines for ultraviolet protection include:
- Review and document the environmental and physical parameters of the site with the collections team, measure the UV levels, and determine whether there is a need for UV mitigation.
- Determine with the collections team the appropriate method to prevent or decrease damage from UV rays based on the UV measurements and the physical parameters.
- Install or otherwise implement an appropriate system for UV mitigation.
- Regularly measure UV conditions to ensure the approach is continually effective but also monitor the materials to ensure that material damage, either from the UV or as a result of the UV, is addressed.