Friday, May 30 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Textiles Session) Assessing Colorants by Light

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The purpose of this research is to address light spectra of different lighting sources used in museums with special attention to colorants. For many years there has been dissatisfaction with Blue Wool standards and their role as dosimeters to predict light induced fading in the museum environment. How different spectra of light effect historic textiles is an emerging topic in conservation. This subject is especially important because of the rapid introduction of LED (light emitting diode) lighting to save energy and the renewed architectural interest in using natural light. To deal with the topic of fading and dye degradation to understand the effects of spectra on textiles, research on the dye response to light is underway.

From previous research it is known that mordant, dye stuff and fiber all contribute to the light-fastness of color on textiles. Customized dyed standards have the possibility of monitoring degradation caused by narrow band light energy. Thus, the light properties of lamps will be juxtaposed against mordants, dyes and substrates in order to reveal connections between spectrum and color degradation.

This project will examine spectral power distribution (SPD) characteristics of lamps. When an exhibit is lit, it is important to understand the characteristics of the SPD produced by a lamp and the light properties that cause degradation to the colorants. These factors are more specific than monitoring the general, total illuminance (lux-hours) of light received by textiles during the length of an exhibit. By closely examining relative energy peaks of light and the effects of spectra on dyes, a new perspective is offered to museums for bulb selection that minimizes damage to dyes. This research seeks to provide textile conservators with a means to monitor textile displays more effectively and to eliminate common misconceptions associated with LEDs.


Courtney Bolin

Postgraduate Research Fellow, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
Courtney Bolin was a Postgraduate Research Fellow studying Textile Conservation, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, Washington D.C. 20560-0534 bolinc@si.edu. She completed her B.S. and M.S. at North Carolina State University in the College of Textiles. She is now employed... Read More →

avatar for Mary W. Ballard

Mary W. Ballard

Conservator, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
EducationB.A. Wellesley (1971)M.A. and Diploma in Conservation New York University Institute of Fine Arts (1979)Additional coursework: North Carolina State University, College of TextilesResearch Specialties and InterestsInterested in coloration of textiles and in the evidence of... Read More →
avatar for Scott Rosenfeld

Scott Rosenfeld

Lighting Designer, Smithsonian American Art Museum
For the past 19 years Scott Rosenfeld has designed lighting for museums of fine art; since 1997 as resident lighting designer at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. (Washington D.C.) In 2006 he completed a complete renovation of the historic Old Patent Office... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 10:30am - 11:00am PDT
Seacliff A-B