Back to STANDARD 14: Exhibit Layout
Guideline 14.2: Object placement and layout is compatible with and promotes object safety
What are the general guidelines for safe placement of exhibit objects?
As with other aspects of design planning, the decisions on where to place and how to group objects must balance the diverse requirements of interpretation, the museum budget and object protection.
The decision on how to position specific exhibit objects should ultimately be made with reference to the particular vulnerabilities of those objects and their Conservation Requirements. However, there are some general precautions to follow that will promote object safety and decrease the risks of damage from the hazards of exhibition. Below are recommendations for safe placement of objects:
Do not crowd objects too close to each other
- Each object in an exhibit should be readily removable without having to remove or disturb adjacent objects.
Group similar objects
- Grouping together those objects with similar Conservation Requirements can make it easier and less expensive to meet preservation goals.
Place sensitive objects in the most stable exhibit environments
- Reserve locations within the exhibit area that are least prone to climate instability (such as humidity and temperature fluctuations) and excessive light exposure (such as in front of windows) for the most vulnerable objects.
Do not place temperature or moisture sensitive collections near sources of temperature or humidity fluctuation
- Avoid placing objects in the path of direct sunlight, against external walls, near doorways, windows, air vents, exposed pipes, or heat sources such as lamps.
- To prevent damage from desiccation and dimensional change, do not overheat objects by placing them too close to a lighting source.
Ensure objects are located at appropriate distances from lights
- Objects should be placed at least 24 inches from fluorescent lamps.
- Objects should be placed at least 36 inches from incandescent or tungsten halogen light because of heat buildup and illumination levels.
- Avoid locating an object too far from a fixture, or the conical beam of light will be spread too wide to provide effective illumination. This may lead to light levels being increased in order to compensate.
Do not place light-sensitive objects that require restricted light levels in exhibit areas near points of bright light
- Group light-sensitive objects away from exhibit entrances, windows, and brightly-illuminated areas of the exhibit to allow visitors to view objects at lower light levels.
Do not place objects in the paths of fire sprinkler heads
- Particularly if objects are water sensitive, avoid placing them under fire sprinkler heads.
- Where possible, the exhibition plan can specify the relocation of detectors and sprinkler heads to maintain optimum system effectiveness.
Display objects at least 10 cm above the floor
- Objects placed too close to the floor are vulnerable to bumping and to water damage from flooding.
- Low placement also interferes with visibility.