Plans For Small Museums

The foregoing remarks apply to every new museum, whatever its size. We shall now considar more particularly the principles and characteristics on which the planning and construction of small museums should be based

By "small museum" we understand any in stitution whose program and finances are restricted so that, st least at its inception, the premises built for It will ba of limited size, in most cases only one story high.

It is not so easy to determine precisely within what limits the idea of the little museum" is to be confined; for while it may, at its smallest, consist of one room, it may on the other hand be of an appreciable extent, though still too small to be properly described as a medium-sized or large musaum.

For the present purpose it may be assumed that the small musaum" will not consist of more than 10 to 12 medium-sized exhibition rooms (16 X 24 sq ft) in addition to its other services.

A new musaum, oven on this small scale, cannot function efficiently unless it reapects the general principles of muaeography and the special possibilities for applying them which are provided by the particular circumstances governing its construction.

Thare are cortsln museogrephical considerations which must have a decisive influence on the structure of the building, for instance, on the arrangament of the rooms or the type of roof choaon, and which are therefore of technical Importance In the oonatruction.

Consequently, the successful planning of a musaum entails the wall-conaidarod choice and unerring application of thas« deciding principles, whose chief theoretical and practical aapocta I shall now briefly describe.

Platuril Lighting This is one of the subjects most keenly discussed by musaum authorities, and la, indeed, of outstanding importance. It waa beliaved at one time that electric light, being easy to switch on, adaptable and unvarying in its affects and abla to give full valua to architectural features, might provide not merely an alternative to the usa of daylight in museums, but a substitute for It. But experience has forcad us to racogniza that especially where running expanses hava to be conaidarad —daylight Is still the bast means of lighting a museum, despite the variations and difficulties which eharactoriza it at different seaeons and in different pieces The building should therefore be so planned as to make the best use of this source of light, even if certain other structural faaturas have to be sacrificad as a result

Daylight may coma from abova or from tha side In tha former case suitable skylights will ba provided in tha ceilings of tha exhibition rooms. In tha lattor esse, ona or mora walls will ba pierced by windows, the height and width of which must be decided according to individual requirements [see Fig. la-/).

Lighting ham Abova This type of lighting, sometimes called overhead lighting (I dislike this term, which seems too restrictive, ignoring the possibility of directing the light from above at any desirable angle), has long been favored by the designers of museums, for if presents certain obvious advantages.

1. A freer and steadier supply of tight, less liable to be affected by the different aspects of the various rooms in the building and by any lateral obstacles (other buildings, trees, etc.) which might tend, by causing refraction or by casting ahadows, to alter the quantity or quality ol the light itself.

2. The possibility of regulating the amount of light cast on the pictures or other exhibits and of securing full and uniform lighting, giving good visibility with a minimum of reflection or distortion.

3. The saving of wallspaca, which thus remains available for exhibits.

4. Tha maximum latitude in planning space inside tha building, which can be divided without requiring courtyards or light shafts.

5. The facilitation of sacurity measures, owing to fewer openings in the outside walls.

Compared with these advantages, the drawbacks seem trifling and can in any casa be reduced or overcome by suitable technical and structural measures. They are:

1. The excess of radiating light, or of diffused light interspersed with irregular rays.

2. The disadvantages inseparable from any system of skylights (increased weight of the roof or calling supports; liability to become coated with dirt; risk of panes being broken; danger of rainwater infiltration; condensation of moisture; admission of sun raya; irradiation and dispersion of heat, ate ).

3. The monotony of tha lighting, and oppressive claustrophobic effect produced on visitors called upon to walk through a long succession of rooms lit from above.

4. Tha graatar complexity of the architectural and technical problams to be aolvad in providing a roof which, whila adapted to this form of lighting, will affectively serve its various purposes (problems relating to weatherproof qualities, haating, maintenance, cleaning, sacurity, ate.).

Literal lighting This is provided either by ordinary windows of various shapes and sixes, placed at suitable intarvels in tha walls, or by continuous opanings; bath windows and openings may be placed either at a level at which people can see out of them or in Ihe upper part of tha wall.

The solulion adopted will be determined by ihe type of museum end the nature of its exhibits, as the advantages and disadvantages vsry from ona to another.

Windows at the usual level, whether separate or continuous, have one serious drawback, in that the wall in which they are placed is rendered useless and the apposite wall practically useless, because showcases, paintings, and any other objact with a smooth reflecting surface, if placed egainsl the wall facing the source of tight, will inovitably cause an interplay of reflections which impedes visibility. These windows will, however, shed full and agreeable light on exhibits placed against the other wells and in the center of the room at a correct angle to the source of light.

Advocates of lateral lighting point out that this is particularly successful in bringing out the plastic and luminous qualities of paintings and sculpture crested in past centuries, when artists usually worked by such light.

All this must be considered in conjunction with the proper use of the floor space, the shape, arrangoment, and sequence of the different rooms, their size and depth in relation to the outer walls—the aim being to make the most of the sources of light and to obtain the greatest possible uniformity of lighting throughout each room.

A definite practical advantoge is, however, that of rendering possible the utmost simplicity and economy in the style of building, permitting the adoption of the ordinary, nontransparent roofing (fist or sloped) customary in the district, and providing, thanks to the side windows, o convenient and simple method of regulating ventilation and temperature in museums which cannot afford expensive air-conditioning apparatus,

Anolhar advantage of windows placed at the ordinary level is that some of them can ba fitted with transparent glass, allowing pleasant views of the countryside, gardens, or architecturally interesting courtyards. This providas a

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