Light (any kind) will eventually degrade ALL photos. Yes, even your office fluorescent ceiling fixtures will eventually wreak havoc – even on black and white photo prints (like those Ansel Adams’ landscapes so popular in offices). Sunlight is the worst, of course whether direct or reflected off walls or polished floors. Its ultraviolet (UV) component does the most damage, quickest. Sadly, UV spray coatings, UV-protective Museum Glass for framed prints and UV-Laminates for mounted prints just delay the degradation, they won’t prevent it, long-term.
What’s long-Term? It depends.
In 2006, we created our portrait (left) of Mr. Richard Berry, former Superintendent of Houston’s Cy-Fair ISD and the person for whom the Berry Center Sports and Convention complex in Cypress, Texas was named. Measuring 24-inches by 30-inches (unframed) this fine executive portrait featured a UV laminate coating. However, despite our recommendation to display it away from any direct or reflected sunlight and to limit any spotlight to 50-Watts of less, the Center displayed it in a main entrance lobby alcove which was exposed to sunlight reflected off a polished tile floor and they further illuminated the portrait by a strong incandescent spotlight round-the-clock. The result?
How long did it retain its true colors?
Well, we don’t know. Why? Because they didn’t call to order a new print until January, 2017, (11 years after hanging it) commenting, “…It’s been blue like that for years and years!” When we delivered the costly new print, their office staff gasped! Most of them had never seen the original, just, “Mr. Blue”.
Be careful! Sunlight and too-strong spotlights – even over-bright fluorescent lights – will also degrade oil paintings, inkjet prints and all offset-printed materials like posters, ad tear sheets, etc. too.
Solution? Keep the lighting “museum-subdued” on any photographs and art your company values. UV protection will help, but it’s not miracle cure.