touch sensors protecting globes
Exhibitions | Collection
The objects in our exhibition The Globes are extremely fragile. Fortunately, they are now protected better than ever with an interface that allows visitors to adjust the lighting.
In early August, we installed touch sensors on all display cases in The Globes that allow visitors to adjust the light level. The standard setting is an extra low level of light to protect the globes from light damage as much as possible. As you touch the sensor, the light slowly goes up until reaching the maximum level of 50 lux. After 25 seconds, the light gradually returns to its starting level.
The oldest globes in our collection, dating from the 17th century, are made from paper with pigments. These materials discolour very quickly when exposed to prolonged light. Constant exposure to lighting of 50 lux would mean that the globes would have to go back to storage after only eight months or be irreparably damaged. The paper yellows and the colours fade; such damage is irreversible. This is easy to see on our oldest globes from the 17th century.
For fragile, light-sensitive objects (including the globes, but also other objects such as the coloured cards and etchings), Het Scheepvaartmuseum adheres to a 'light budget', a maximum permitted amount of light that an object can be exposed to within a given time frame that will damage to the material only to a minimal degree. With new sensors, we can track exactly how much light an object has been exposed to.
We have been working with light budgets and protocols for our most fragile objects since 2005. The installation of the touch sensors for the globes completes the work on the conservation of the collection on exhibit (at least, the conservation work that the visitors can see).