Lighting is one of the critical factors to make art look at its best inside museums and galleries. Because direct sunlight can degrade artwork like paintings and photographs, galleries and museums have no choice but to use artificial lighting to illuminate paintings, sculptures, and other types of artwork.
But art galleries and museums can’t just use any type of lighting. Halogens, for example, can get very hot and cause watercolor paintings and photos to fade. The good news is that in the last few years, LEDs have emerged as the best solution for art gallery and museum lighting. We take a look at a few of the benefits they offer.
Longer Life Spans
From once being used as indicator lights in appliances and household electronics, LEDs have grown to become mainstream residential and commercial lighting solutions. Of the many benefits LEDs offer, one of the most significant is they’re incredibly long lifespan, with some devices lasting well over 20,000 hours, or a little over six years assuming the museum uses its lights eight hours a day.
By comparison, an incandescent light bulb would be lucky to break into the 2,000-hour mark.
This means that LEDs could very well lower your gallery’s lighting replacement and maintenance costs.
No Damage to Artwork
The ultraviolet (UV) and infrared rays (IR) in sunlight can damage fabric, photographs, paintings, documents, and even certain materials used for sculptures. On the other hand, LEDs generate little to no UV and IR light, eliminating the need to attach diffusers to the lights themselves or filter screens on the artwork.
Another reason LEDs are ideal for illuminating art is because they generate very little heat. When you have multiple halogen bulbs directed at a painting, you can only imaging the kind of heat being focused on the artwork. On the other hand, LED lights are only slightly warm to the touch, even after hours of use.
Another major benefit of LED lighting is their energy efficiency. And in museums and galleries which have several hundred lights installed, energy efficient lighting can contribute to major savings.
In fact, a 2008 survey by the Manchester Museum in England revealed that 50 percent of the museum’s total energy consumption was attributed to their lighting system.
When they decided to replace their fluorescent tubes with LED bulbs and added motion sensors around the facility, they were able to reduce energy consumption for lighting by a whopping 89 percent. Their LED lighting investment basically paid for itself in just 18 months.
Superior Lighting Quality
Color Rendering Index (CRI) is the measurement of how true a color appear when illuminated by a light source. Naturally, sunlight has the highest CRI, making greens look green, blues look blue, and reds look red—you get the picture.
For a facility that revolves around showing the beauty of visual art, it only makes sense for art galleries to have lighting with the highest possible CRI. This is where LEDs come in, providing superior lighting quality over incandescent bulbs, halogens, and fluorescent lights.
With their exceptionally long lifespan, better lighting quality, energy efficiency, and low thermal output, it’s no surprise that LEDs are quickly establishing themselves as the best lighting solution for art galleries.