I meandered around the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the city’s main art gallery, and wondered why nearly every single painting had glass in front of it. The gallery has had a brilliant idea in having a series of rooms explaining the scope of their collection and also answering why they have some of the policies that they do.
And, to my surprise, they actually answered the question about why they have glass in front of paintings, so I imagine it’s been asked many times before. The answer is quite simple, they have been putting it there for decades as the smoke from the neighbouring train lines was causing a build up of soot and grime on their paintings from the steam engines.
They do explain that from the 1970s they’ve made efforts to ensure that the glass is anti-reflective, colourless and offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. I’m not sure that they’ve got the anti-reflective glass quite perfect yet, but I’m just pleased that there’s a reason for doing it.
But care has to be taken with glass, as the photo at the top of this post is of the glass which was in front of this painting. It seems that the glass was put on too soon in this case, but it’s still amazing how much of the image transferred to the surface of the glass.