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Subject: Light levels for Japanese lacquerware

Light levels for Japanese lacquerware

From: Marianne Webb <mariannw>
Date: Friday, November 8, 1996
Mark Aronson <mark.aronson [at] yale__edu> writes

>Can anyone recommend appropriate light levels for Japanese
>Lacquerware?  Is the material especially sensitive to uv filtered
>daylight?

You are right to be concerned, lacquer is readily damaged by light.
In 1987 I carried out a number of experiments on the effects of
light on lacquer. When lacquer is degraded by light  it not only
becomes dull but the surface becomes water soluble as well.  This
can lead to secondary damage by water or fingerprints.  The dull
appearance is caused by a network of microscopic cracks  formed on
the surface as the light breaks down the lacquer.

In general I recommend: The light levels for display should remain
low. Like the fading of textiles damage is permanent and
irreversible. From my observations lacquer falls into the same
category as Blue wool standard number 4. That is lacquer can be
displayed for 40 years at 100 lux or 80 years at 50 lux (UV excluded
and 8 hours display per day) before damage will be physically
evident. Ultra violet light sources such as florescent lamps and
natural sunlight should be avoided at all costs as these will
rapidly increase the rate of deterioration.  There is some
protection to lacquer from the pigments used in them . For example
clear and red lacquer deteriorate much faster while black lacquer
that has been coloured by carbon with deteriorates at a slower rate.

Also there is evidence that lacquer is damaged by  exposure to
extreme heat, therefore as with many objects intense incandescent
spot lights should not be used.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to
contact me.

Marianne Webb
Royal Ontario Museum

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:46
                 Distributed: Friday, November 8, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-46-002
                                  ***
Received on Friday, 8 November, 1996

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