A series of light-fastness tests were conducted on a group of ethnographic objects that will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies Center, a recent addition to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center in Alaska. The objects surveyed belong to the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. This work was designed as a feasibility study on the use of a micro-fading tester as a non-contact and non-destructive technique to evaluate the light-stability of materials present in ethnographic collections. A broad range of objects containing a wide variety of materials were selected for the study. The materials investigated included a variety of dyes applied on silk, cotton, and wool substrates along with some unusual materials such as tanned skin and seal gut skin. The results from this investigation have allowed establishing exhibition recommendations taking into consideration the sensitivity of each object, light levels in the museum building, and estimated light exposures based on the duration of the exhibit. The micro-fading tester has proven to be a very useful tool for determining the light-stability of ethnographic materials without causing any harm to the objects. Objects containing equivalent materials are usually classified under a general category based on their probable sensitivity to light. However, micro-fading test results have permitted the detection of dissimilarities among some of these objects, which could be associated to variations in prior fading histories, the quality of raw materials, and different preparation methods.
del Hoyo-Meléndez, Julio M. and Mecklenburg, Marion F. 2010. A survey on the light-fastness properties of organic-based Alaska Native artifacts. <i>Journal of Cultural Heritage<i>, 11(4): 493-499. doi:10.1016/j.culher.2010.01.004