Too much exposure to light can damage historic artifacts such as paintings, tapestries or other sensitive materials.
Excessive light can cause bleaching and permanent discolouring and it can even weaken fabrics.
And once centuries-old artifacts are damaged – that’s it. They’ll never look as they originally did.
Identifying the source
Natural, artificial: it's everywhere
All light is problematic - the sun's rays and artificial light from lamps.
Our biggest worry is sunlight as it is exceptionally strong and damaging. Visible sunlight causes fading of pigments and dyes and is especially bad for watercolour paintings, feathers and coloured textiles.
The invisible part of the light spectrum, especially the ultra violet section, is exceptionally strong and damaging. It breaks down materials and causes textiles and paper to become brittle and weakened.
Battling the effects of light
Mostly, we draw the blinds. Sounds simple, but there’s a bit more to it.
With the palace open seven days a week all year round we monitor light levels regularly. Computer-based data loggers inform us about the ongoing light levels.
Keeping the shutters closed all the time would obscure the views inside the magnificent rooms, so we regulate the amount of light in the rooms using the blinds.
We try to allow enough light for you to enjoy the rooms, but not so much as to cause damage. It’s a tricky balance to maintain.
Tapestry light show
Light damage is irreversible. The historic tapestries we care for would have originally been a spectacular display of brilliant green, purple and yellow.
How would our tapestries originally looked hundreds of years ago? We're trying to find out and to re-create the effect using virtual reality and light show technology. Read about our project
Other agents of decay
It's a constant battle against the causes of deterioration. Read about other agents of decay.
- Pollution: sniffing out pollution
- Vibration: good vibrations?
- Weather: under wraps for winter
- Dust: it's dastardly stuff
You can help us
Palace upkeep is expensive work and as an independent charity we receive no funding from the Government or the Crown.
We depend entirely on our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors to help us.
Find out how you can support us or become a volunteer