Throw us some Shade!

Last year we received a small grant that allowed us to have a study done of the lighting conditions in our various galleries. Good lighting not only makes visiting our Museum more enjoyable, it also protects our artifacts from damage.

The study was conducted by Richard Rummel of Rummel Design. Broadly speaking Richard made two major recommendations in his final report.

His first recommendation was that we upgrade our fixtures and lamps to more modern LEDs. LEDs are significantly more energy efficient than our current fluorescent fixtures and offer far greater flexibility. He suggested a number of stunning new fixtures to replace our rather utilitarian models.

Unfortunately implementing everything Richard recommended would quickly bust our rather modest budget. But while it was tough to justify replacing all our lighting fixtures, we did discover we could at least replace our current light bulbs with newer LEDs. Even better Xcel Energy, our electric utility, would give us a rebate for every bulb we replaced!

In his report Richard made specific recommendations on the amount and type of artificial light we should install. For example Richard indicated that the type of light recommended for most museums and galleries was “soft white” (or more accurately, light having a color temperature of 3000 degrees kelvin).

Our old bulbs where emitting the harsher “cool white” type of light (4100 degrees kelvin). This type of light works great on a factory floor. But it is not so nice if you are trying to appreciate the colors in a painting or the richness of a fine piece of woodwork.

Using his report we were able to find new LED bulbs that closely matched his specifications. Not only do these new bulbs save us money, they also make our Museum a warmer and more inviting place to visit. Come by and check them out!

Richard’s second recommendation is a bit more involved. Overall we need to do a much better job of controlling the level of daylight in our buildings. Currently the Museum does have UV blocking film on all our windows. But Richard pointed out that all light, not just UV rays, will damage our aging artifacts.

In addition while the large windows in our main building add considerable drama to our galleries, they are also a source of significant glare. Even on cloudy days they make viewing our displays a challenge for many of our visitors.

To deal with these problems we examined a number of different options. Boarding up our windows was by far the cheapest option, but most agreed that solution was probably a bit too extreme.

Ultimately we decided cellular shades seem to offer the best combination of performance and cost. These shades are relatively inexpensive, will effectively block the most intense sunlight and even insulate the room and make it less drafty in the winter. Overall they should cast a nice even glow over our rooms.

But while the bulbs we just bought will pay for themselves in about a year, new shades will cost a bit more. There are 11 large windows in our main gallery. The smallest window is 3 by 7 feet with the largest being 7 by 9 feet. Home Depot can outfit them all for about $4,000.

With the intense summer sun now beating down through these windows we were hoping to cover them as soon as possible. But our long winter has left our coffers a bit short and Apple Fest is still several months away.

So we are hoping our members can help us out by donating at our “Throw us some Shade” fund drive site. Please help keep our history from fading away. Every little bit will help.

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