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[BKARTS] questions re: exhibiting manuscripts



Conservators & curators & exhibit designers among us...

I'm forwarding a message from my medieval codicology list raising a concern
about the use of magnifying glasses for viewing mss. in an exhibit. I know
that at the current Rembrandt print exhibit at the MFA viewers are also
armed with magnifiying glasses. I have the authors permission to forward
this and send along any replies back to her. The sender is a knowledgeable
scholar who organizes conferences on medieval books. She in turn sent her
message to the medieval codicology list on behalf of a friend.

Any general responses (or specific ones regarding the Kimball exhibit)
would be appreciated.

Date:    Sat, 3 Jan 2004 04:04:25 +0100
From:    Julia Bolton Holloway <juliana@xxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Exhibiting Manuscripts
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

A friend has written about his concern with the use of magnifying glasses
on medieval manuscripts in an exhibition. I also have been concerned with
the use of fluorescent lighting close to medieval manuscripts and frescoes
in Italy, though in a book I have on the conservation of fine books it
counsels against the use of these lamps as their rays continue to cause
damage. Am not actually sure if either is true, but thought I could ask the
wisdom of this list. Pierpont Morgan at the moment does not respond to
communications.
I have just been to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Wroth Texas and saw the
Painted Prayers exhibition of Books of Hours from the Pierpont Morgan
Library.  People going to the exhibition used magnifying lenses to look at
the manuscripts.  I watched them as they focused light upon the manuscripts
in some cases to a pinpoint, and am worried about them damaging the
works.  If you place a magnifying lens onto the glass case, which is what
most of them do, it creates a concentrated beam of light onto the page
whether they are looking at that part of the page or not.  They have flood
lamps in the ceiling that are being focused onto the manuscripts and the
lenses concentrate that light.  Perhaps if they did not direct the flood
lamps onto the cases but did it indirectly it would be ok.  When they pull
away  from the case with their lenses the light becomes extremely
concentrated and I think that if they stayed in that position for a few
seconds more it would alight.  Surely this is bad for the inks.  They are
doing this randomly and swinging these lenses around and thus sending
focused light all over the place.
       They are letting in about half of the people that come into the
exhibition had these magnifying lenses, they are about 6 inches across and
have a further magnifying lens in there as a bifocal type of thing.  They
have a black edge to them.  I would say that there were at least 70 people
in there this morning waving these things about.
       I figured that you would be the best person to contact on this as
you would know who to contact.  Peter S Wieck is in charge of the
exhibition and I do not know where to contact him effectively.  The Kimbell
only has their regular email address listed and I told this to a guard but
he did not seem to comprehend the problem.  They will not allow flash
photography in there and the light is dimmed and yet this is going on.

--- Amy West Museum Educator Higgins Armory Museum

medievalist@xxxxxxxxx

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