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Question asked 2019-10-06 15:31:17 ...
Most recent comment 2019-10-08 15:52:01
Art Conservation Topics
About four years ago I was in the Basilica of saint Francis of Assis and there were a number of what appeared to be friar guides using laser lights to direct their groups eyes around the murals high above them. Could this be damaging to the pigments in the paintings? Hindsight is 2020, but instead of asking them directly I went to a guard and asked if they should be doing this. "I understand but it's out of my control."
Were my concerns valid ones? I've since noticed it being done, if more briefly, on stained glass windows in the Chartres Cathedral as well.
Answers and Comments
I am inclined to think that the low powered laser used in
pointers would do little damage but honestly, I am not sure and we all know the
danger in assuming.
I have sent this along to our representatives in preventive
conservation in the hopes of a more thoughtful answer.
Laser pointers emit light from a very narrow band of the electromagnetic
spectrum, which gives them their color. Green laser pointers are of a higher
energy level than red ones, but neither emits UV radiation, which is the most
damaging for painted surfaces. They do produce some heat, which could cause
damage if the laser was pointed in the same spot for an extended period of
time. In this case, however, I don’t think the exposure time would be long
enough to result in damage.
WUDPAC 2021 Preventive Conservation Major
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