Sunlight

The Yellow Death for Antiques

Most people are aware of the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light on the skin and the increased risk of skin cancer by prolonged exposure. But many people are not aware that the sun's UV rays can potentially cause the most damage to home furnishings, artwork, and antiques of any sort, especially textiles.

In terms of textiles and printed/painted artifacts, these should absolutely never be in an area where they are exposed to direct, unfiltered sunlight. All light, particularly that in the ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) regions of the spectrum, induce chemical changes which age materials by degrading them. Sunlight's UV rays will seriously damage and devalue almost any item by fading, be it collectibles, artwork, furniture etc. The cause of this, is that UV rays cause structural damage and oxidative reactions such as photochemical deterioration, primarily to the pigments, which we see as severe fading. Photochemical deterioration that occurs in organic objects such as paper and textiles is cumulative and cannot be reversed. Controlling the form and length of light exposure protects paper and pigments from chemical and physical deterioration.