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Ways of protecting historical and cultural artifacts

A range of conservation techniques are used to prolong the lifespan of historical and cultural artifacts, or at least slow down the rate of deterioration.

For example, non-invasive techniques such as x-ray radiography and infrared photography can be used in artwork analysis to undertake a detailed investigation of the chemical composition of the painting. Understanding what paint has been used can mean that scientists can then assess deterioration paths of pigments and materials over time.

Avoiding the handling of artifacts is always encouraged. This is because the human skin contains oils, acids and salts that can damage most types of materials over time. During times where it is necessary to touch objects, such as relocating artifacts or placing them in storage, wearing clean cotton or latex gloves is recommended. If the object is likely to slip with gloves on, clean, dry, lotion-free hands can be used.

When it comes to carpets, antique carpets and rugs are usually made from wool or silk. This makes them susceptible to insect attacks. Vacuuming both sides of the carpet with the upholstery attachment can get rid of an infestation providing it’s done weekly and continue at least six weeks after the last signs of infestation. To avoid damaging the carpet with the vacuum the nozzle should be covered with a stocking.

Fading is a huge issue that museums and historical buildings have to combat in order to protect their artifacts. Solar energy accounts for around 90% of fading and there are three different wave bands that contribute to this.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is invisible to the human eye yet it is the most damaging type of light for museum collections and historical artifacts. Visible light is what humans can see and is separated into the different colours of the rainbow. Infrared radiation is also invisible to the human eye but can be felt as heat.

It is these different wave bands that contribute to the deterioration of important and often invaluable artifacts.

Items that are very sensitive (50 lux) and therefore require more protection include costumes and textiles, prints, manuscripts, drawings, watercolours, old coloured photographs and miniatures. Moderately sensitive items (200 lux) include oil paintings, wood, furniture, bone, horn, ivory, undyed leather and modern black and white photographs. And insensitive items (300 lux) include stone, ceramic, metal and glass.

To protect these important pieces, Westgate’s triple layer film can be installed on windows which can dramatically decrease fading caused by natural light and provide added UV protection for historical buildings and museums. The triple layer UV protection is superior to any other UV window film and cuts out 99.9% of UV light.

It’s an incredibly cost-effective and minimally disruptive solution. Clarity is not compromised once the film is installed and natural daylight can still be maximised without the UV harm. The other benefits of applying solar window film is that it can also help with glare issues and can help to increase the safety and security of window glass. For increased light filtering, Westgate also have a range of commercial window blinds that can be fitted.

We have worked with the National Trust, helping to protect and preserve historic estates. Recently we installed our solar window film on various buildings within the Shugborough Estate, as part of their extensive renovation works.

To find out more about our UV reduction window film or range of commercial blinds please contact us.

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