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Windows of Opportunity at Maymont Mansion

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27, 2016

By Dale Wheary
Maymont Mansion

The windows of Maymont Mansion look out onto a breathtaking landscape and into a world of Gilded Age treasures, but how often does anyone consider the windows themselves?

Their importance was recognized in FY15 with a $145,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and matching funds from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation. This financial support allowed us to begin a comprehensive window conservation and museum environment improvement project that was planned through a prior IMLS grant, 2009-2010.

Recently, new exterior-mounted secondary windows were installed to reduce damaging UV and visible light transmission, protect the original window frames and sashes, and reduce air and moisture filtration and energy consumption. In addition, all interior acrylic panels have been replaced to further enhance the light protection.

To further explain this new development: Maymont’s new exterior secondary windows reduce 99% of UV transmission. The solution to achieving the desired visible light reduction was not so straightforward. We found that the glass suitable for the exterior panes could reduce visible light transmission (VLT) by only 59% as a lower VLT (a darker tint) would increase risk of breakage due to heat absorption. To achieve the desired visible light reduction, we decided that we would also have to replace our old interior acrylic panels with tinted acrylic. The new acrylic panels have a VLT of 75%. Combined, the new exterior glass panes and the new interior acrylic panels are transmitting 34% of visible light. As an additional level of protection, we decided to also have the acrylic panels impregnated with UV filtering material.   

We don’t expect you to notice a difference – that’s the point! – but this is a big and exciting step in preserving the precious collection on display inside the mansion as well as original elements of the historic building itself—Artifact Number One. All of us here at Maymont are super excited by this development.

Dale Wheary is Curator/Director, Historical Collections & Programs at the Maymont in Richmond, Virginia.