Are you concerned about the damage the sun can cause to textiles? While glorious sunshine is a mostly seen as a positive thing, exposure to the UV rays in sunlight can cause fading to occur to expensive furniture and upholstery. This is a serious concern for many galleries and museums, as well as residential homes. But how to protect textiles from sun damage? The answer is simple, effective, and easier than you might think.
HOW DOES UV CAUSE SUN DAMAGE TO TEXTILES?
Firstly, it’s important to understand just how UV can causes damage. As much as 6% of sunlight is made up of UV rays. Solar irradiation from the UV causes cellulose fibers in fabrics and paper to decompose, making them brittle, fade in color, or turn yellow. If you’ve had fading occur to your furniture or wallpaper, it’s likely that UV was the cause. These tips will help you determine if sunlight is causing you problems:
Tips for assessing light in your space:
- Set up a camera to take a time lapse and see how light moves through the room at different times.
- Consider how light changes from winter to summer and shifting furniture during longer light exposure.
- You can easily assess existing damage by shifting furniture to see if lines appear in areas that have gotten more exposure.
THE MUSEUM’S WAY TO PREVENT SUN DAMAGE
For combating this issue, one only has to look at the Waukegan History Museum in Waukegan, IL. Built in 1843, it exists today as an accurate portrayal of life in the 1870s, complete with beautiful decoration and authentic period pieces. When it comes to protecting textiles from sun damage, however, it’s close inspection of the windows that reveals the secret.
“So with any museum,” explains Bryan Escobar, Arts & History Specialist at Waukegan, “especially when you have textiles, the sun over time will degrade the material. By having inserts that have that UV protection, it allows more time in between when you need to move some items, or just the preservation of those textiles, especially when we’re talking about a historic house museum where there’s furniture.”
WHAT ARE MUSEUM WINDOW INSERTS?
The “inserts” that Bryan refers to here are museum window inserts, specifically designed to filter out that UV light and protect textiles from sun damage. For Bryan and the Waukegan History Museum, installing window inserts was the only way forward. However, not all inserts are created equal, and many have one major, unavoidable flaw.
“The window inserts that we had before, it’s the plastic on the side that’s actually kind of the issue,” says Bryan. “(But) with the Indow window insert, you can’t really tell it’s there because of the tubing. The way it forms into the window, it just has a natural look to it… you can actually focus on the other things in the room instead of ‘oh look at that insert in the window.’”
The Waukegan History Museum is one of many museums catching on to this trend of window inserts filtering out UV light. Here is another historic house museum explaining how they made the decision to use Museum Grade Inserts:
Heather Culligan, Operations Manager of Pinellas County Heritage Village, explains why
they purchased Museum Grade for their 21-acre living history museum.
MUSEUM WINDOW INSERTS – HOW DO THEY WORK?
Indow Museum Grade window inserts are simple. The interior window frame is laser measured for a precise fit, and each acrylic insert is custom made for that opening. The compression tubing Bryan describes, which lines the insert, allows them to be simply pressed into place – no mounting bracket, screws, or adhesive required. Aside from UV protection, the museum window inserts also block drafts, reduce noise and save energy.
The design allows for exceptional ease of installation, which is a major appeal to many. “To remove them is super simple, which is really nice,” says Bryan. “With these old inserts, if I take one out, because of how long it’s been in the window, I risk knocking out some of the wood. If I try put it back in, it may not fit. The Indow ones, I can take them out, I can clean them, and then just pop them right back in.”
EFFECTIVELY PROTECT TEXTILES FROM SUN DAMAGE
Indow Museum Grade window inserts are the popular solution for museums to protect textiles from sun damage, and work just as well for residential homes. As Bryan explains for the Waukegan Museum: “The repeat visitors, they’re the ones that will notice, and they’re the ones that will appreciate the changes being done.” Whether you have repeat visitors to your historic house museum, or just family and guests in your historic home, Indow will protect your textiles, artwork and furniture from UV rays, allowing them to be appreciated for many more years to come.
Interested in seeing some other cases where museum window inserts protected against UV rays? Marla Yorston used Museum Grade window inserts to protect her artwork – read about it here.