Location: Penryn, UK
Client: Penryn Town Museum
Completed: October 2012

The Enys family estate, once amongst Cornwall's most influential, holds an archive collection of thousands of manuscripts, photographs and objects which date from as early as the 13th century. The Enys Family Archive is part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project to preserve these vital and fascinating windows into Cornwall's history, with the Penryn Town Museum hosting part of the collection.

The brief was simple in premise: to light the display cabinets for documents and objects from the Enys Family Archive. However, standard lighting can be overpowering and even damaging in a museum setting. As some of the exhibits are hundreds of years old, they need to be displayed in a way that preserves them for the decades to come.

With this in mind, I designed and installed a scheme using fibre optic lighting to light the display cabinets. Fibre optic is unique in that the light fixture itself holds no electricity, gives off no heat, and produces less UV radiation than a standard fitting. As heat and UV can degrade antiques, particularly ink and paper, this was vital for protecting these valuable exhibits.

The lower section of the cabinet, which contains information about the Enys family crest, a merchants' ledger and objects such as antique fishing flies, is lit using a linear fibre optic bar, creating a uniform light which is perfect for readability. The upper section, which contains objects such as an early 19th century silver candle snuffer and 17th century Dutch tiles, is lit using fibre optic spots, which focuses the viewer's attention on each object in turn.