SPD SmartGlass for Museum Interiors

Date: 7 July 2011
Source: Smartglass International
“Improving the management of light in museums”Museums wishing to comply with Green Building Council requirements on the greater use of natural daylight are now facing a dilemma in balancing the works of art conservation issue by reducing photo-chemical damage of light-sensitive objects.

The International Commission on Illumination defines categories of light-sensitive materials in its Technical Report CIE 157:2004:


The report also outlines recommended light exposure levels based on the CIE material catagories:



Current Solutions

Current solutions to reduce this light damage in the museum sector include the following measure, with the subsequent disadvantages:


SPD SmartGlass – A Sustainable Solution

Manoj Phatak, C.Eng, Director of Product Development, Domoticware S.L.U proposes a case study to examine the use of electronically switchable light-control films as a sustainable solution to the problem of protecting light-sensitive works of art in museums.

There are various polymer-based light control films which alter their optical properties (such as transmission and clarity) with the application of an electrical signal. The light-control film is normally laminated between panes of glass or polycarbonate and can filter out ultra-violet (UV), infra-red (IR) and visible light. SPD SmartGlass technology operates using this composition. SPD SmartGlass in particular provides special benefits to museums in allowing immediate switching, low power consumption (approx. 5W per sq. m) and less than 1% light transmission in its darkest state (which reduces light damage on the museum display object).

Domoticware has developed a smart display case concept that uses SPD SmartGlass to protect extremely light-sensitive materials such as silk, manuscripts, ancient books and photographs by combining it with proximity sensors located around the display case.

  • The display case switches into its transparent state only when someone is present to view the work of art.
  • When no-one is present, the display case automatically switches back to its darkest “off” state, protecting the object from the harmful effects of UV, IR and visible light.

Benefits of SPD SmartGlass display case:

  • Localised and configurable level of protection for light-sensitive works of art, allowing museums to offer sustainable benefits.
  • Reduces the need for artificial lighting thus allowing natural light into the museum.
  • Reduces the energy footprint due to inefficient incandescent bulbs.
  • Improves the health and well-being of museum staff and visitors.
  • Reduces the environmental impact of UV filters and window shades which provide a blanket and often expensive solution, especially for large museums.
  • Reduces light damage per object and potentially reduces the frequency of restorations and thus environmental impact of chemical agents used therein.
  • Illuminates the work of art sufficiently to allow photonic vision for the museum visitor while simultaneously reducing the photo-chemical damage from incident light.
  • Allows for placement of extremely light-sensitive objects next to non-sensitive objects, allowing the museum to portray a coherent historical story.
  • Allows viewing of works of art as originally intended by the artist in their day when artificial lighting was not available.
600450 SPD SmartGlass for Museum Interiors glassonweb.com

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