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Exhibitions, Japan Spring, Japanese Art

You Ask, We Answer: Why is it so Dark in Here?

Posted by on Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thirty-six Views: Hokusai at the Sackler

A visitor recently wrote in our Japan Spring comment book wanting to know why it is “so dark” in the Hokusai exhibit. We asked Richard Skinner, F|S lighting designer extraordinaire, to field this one.

RS: Good question. Many of the objects on display at the Freer|Sackler are made with materials that can react to light, so it is necessary to carefully control what kind of light, how much light, and duration of exposure on these materials. The Hokusai prints are made with pigments that could easily fade or shift in color if overexposed to light. Curator Ann Yonemura has carefully selected the best copy available of each print—and to preserve these objects in their current pristine condition, the light level is restricted to 5 foot-candles of visible light. We carefully measure the light level at each individual object with an illuminance meter and also monitor how long lights are on each day using a digital data logging system. Typically, prints of this nature can only be displayed for a limited length of time before they must go back into storage.

Any more questions for us? Let us know in the comments!

3 Responses to “You Ask, We Answer: Why is it so Dark in Here?”

  1. Jane Says:

    Thanks for this. Nice to hear from the experts behind the scenes.

  2. Howard Kaplan Says:

    Thanks, Jane. We’re working to present more behind-the-scenes stories. Stay tuned!

  3. koyo happy life Says:

    Nice to hear from the experts behind the scenes.

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