Photochemistry of Museum Colorants under Blackbody and Solid State Lighting

The GCI will continue to push the boundaries of experimental light aging to better estimate the role of spectral power distribution on fading rates, to acquire more extensive activation spectra of important pigments and dyes, and to establish highly reliable long-term color monitoring protocols and documentation techniques. Applying predictions based on accelerated aging has always been considered risky because of the possibility that rates of color change may not be the same as for low level light exposures. This will be investigated in depth over the next three years, particularly with the idea of comparing traditional museum lighting to the emerging solid state lighting.

From 2011 to 2013, a postdoctoral fellow will play an integral role as the GCI pursues lighting effects on large sets of some of the most important colorants used in Western art to better understand the range of sensitivities we can expect in the future. These include the first and second generation of petrochemical colorants that underlie the formulation of the early commercial watercolors, pastels, and colored pencils that were used extensively to hand-color early photography and printmaking.

Last updated: July 2010