Illuminating the past
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Today, with a wide array of resources available, we are able to manipulate artificial light to suit our physical and psychological needs. This belies the lighting conditions of the past when houses were lit only by a few candles or oil lamps. This thesis attempts to provide an understanding of artificial lighting in domestic interiors in America from 1610-1930 in terms of the fuels used, the evolving technologies and spatial relations between the users, fixtures and architectural elements, and the various aesthetic movements that influenced the style of lighting. It also discusses and analyzes the challenges of lighting historic house museums, where light has to satisfy the conflicting criteria of aiding the viewing of the historic interiors and art objects, minimizing photochemical damage and creating an authentic period setting. Based on these issues, a set of guidelines has been provided as an aid to lighting historic house museums.
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