Protecting Art from Sunlight Damage in New Zealand's Harsh Sun

New Zealand's intense sunlight, enriched with higher levels of UV radiation, poses a significant risk to the preservation of art. Over time, exposure to direct sunlight can lead to fading colors and deterioration of materials. Here’s how to protect valuable artworks from the damaging effects of UV rays.

1. Understand the Impact of UV Light

UV radiation is particularly strong in New Zealand due to the thinner ozone layer in the Southern Hemisphere. This can cause rapid degradation in artworks, including fading, yellowing, and even the breakdown of fibers in paintings and textiles. Knowing the materials susceptible to UV damage helps in planning adequate protection strategies.

2. Use UV Filtering Glass

One of the most effective ways to protect your art from sunlight is by using UV-filtering glass or acrylic in frames. This specialized glass can block up to 99% of harmful UV rays, significantly prolonging the life of the art it covers. UV-filtering glass is particularly crucial for valuable or irreplaceable items displayed in areas exposed to natural light.

3. Apply UV Protective Films on Windows

For rooms where sunlight exposure is unavoidable, consider applying UV protective films to the windows. These films can block harmful rays while allowing natural light to illuminate the room softly, providing a balance between protection and aesthetics. They are a cost-effective solution for larger spaces or galleries.

4. Use Appropriate Lighting

When displaying art, the choice of lighting is crucial. Avoid placing artworks in direct sunlight and use artificial lighting that does not emit UV light. LED lights are an excellent choice as they provide good color accuracy with minimal UV emission, reducing the risk of light-induced degradation.

5. Monitor and Control Room Conditions

Along with light, environmental factors such as temperature and humidity play a significant role in art preservation. Use hygrometers and thermometers to monitor these conditions closely. Aim to keep the humidity level around 50% and avoid extreme temperature fluctuations, which can also be exacerbated by sunlight.

6. Rotate Artworks Regularly

Regularly rotating artworks can prevent prolonged exposure to harmful conditions, reducing cumulative damage. This is especially useful in naturally lit spaces where sunlight can reach displayed items. Periodic rotation also refreshes your space visually and allows the enjoyment of a broader range of your collection over time.

7. Use Blinds or Curtains

Utilize light-diffusing curtains or UV-blocking blinds to control the amount of sunlight entering the room. These can significantly reduce UV exposure while softening the natural light that enhances the room’s ambiance. They offer a flexible solution to manage light exposure throughout the day and in different seasons.

8. Consult Professionals

If in doubt about the best ways to protect your specific artworks, consult a conservation professional. They can offer tailored advice depending on the medium, value, and placement of your pieces. Professional advice is invaluable, especially for high-value or historically significant artworks.


Protecting artwork from the damaging effects of New Zealand’s sunlight involves a combination of proper display strategies, technological solutions, and regular maintenance. By taking proactive steps to minimize UV exposure, you can preserve the integrity and beauty of your art collection for future generations.

This guide equips you with practical measures to safeguard your valuable art against the relentless New Zealand sun, ensuring its longevity and vibrancy.

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