18 Mar


18 Mar 2022


The art of lighting well… art!

A constraint for art is that everything can be art. This idea, controversial in itself and generating debates that go beyond the experts, reflects another essence of it – no one is indifferent to it! Art leaves us an undeniable invitation to develop the critical mass on which our freedom depends. When it is tangible to the eye, we, the makers of light, enter one of the most delicate and particular domains of lighting. Lighting museums (be they bastions of art or heritage) is very different from lighting residential or commercial environments. In addition to the technical precepts linked to color rendering and other aspects, which we will mention below, museum objects have other specifications, as they can be quite sensitive and must be treated with care and special care in terms of lighting. Without light everything is darkness.

Light, in the presence of an object, reveals its shape, volume, colors, details and textures. Lighting is much more than creating light environments: it allows you to create conditions for the effective development of visual activity, but it also allows you to model sensations and emotions. In addition to basic aspects such as comfort or visual acuity, lighting in a museum directly interferes with the correct perception of objects, shadows and volumes, the drama of the space and, ultimately, the interpretation that the visitor derives. of the observed object. Art/heritage pieces are often made with fragile and delicate materials. The incidence of less than adequate light on these materials, most of the time, results in unpleasant results if the designer does not have control and knowledge about the negative effects of this light on them. Art objects can be divided into three light sensitivity categories, according to their composition:

  • Not very sensitive: metal, stone, glass, ceramics, jewelry and enamelled pieces;
  • Moderately sensitive: oil paintings, leather, fabrics with stable dyes, bones, ivory, fine wood and lacquers;
  • Extremely sensitive: paintings (gouache, watercolor and similar), drawings, manuscripts and printed matter, stamps, paper in general, natural fibers, cotton, silk, lace, wool, tapestries, dyed leather, furs and pieces from natural history (taxidermy, etc…).

For each of these categories, there is a maximum level of light and incidence of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) rays that should not be exceeded. There is also a maximum annual exposure time that these materials can withstand and that must be respected. Exposure to light can be increased or decreased depending on the display time, that is: the shorter the display time, the greater the illuminance on the object. Some light sources emit a large component of UV and IR rays, which are harmful to any material. Do not forget, however, that despite the great concern about the use of artificial lighting in museums, the greatest damage is caused by natural lighting that enters the environment without any control. Natural light has a UV and IR radiation component far above artificial sources, and when its entry is not controlled, it can cause huge problems. LED solutions are the best light source for illuminating this type of object, either due to their quality in color reproduction or due to the zero emission of UV radiation from this light source, thus ensuring that there is no risk of degrade the most sensitive works of art.

Another important factor to take into account are the reflections that may occur on the surface of the art pieces. These reflections can occur when the angle of incidence of light has not been correctly calculated. For good lighting of three-dimensional art pieces we must consider at least three spotlights. If we just place a higher focus we will obtain a dramatic view, with points of great light and others of total darkness. If we place a point behind the piece, when we look at it from the front we will only see the silhouette of the piece and we will lose all the texture. If we focus on the front we will lose the sensation of volume of the piece. Other very important factors to take into consideration are: the light source’s color rendering index (CRI) and its color temperature (TC). The IRC gives us an indication of the fidelity in the reproduction of the colors of the illuminated objects.

The closer the IRC is to 100, the more correct and realistic the colors of the illuminated object will be. TC refers to the tone of the light, which can vary between warm whites and cold whites, however, the use of LEDs with TC between 2700K and 4000K is preferred, corresponding to the light temperatures at which a significant part of the works of art (especially older ones) were conceived.

To illuminate a museum object, it is essential to understand that, by doing so, by revealing its physical essence, the designer may be – is in fact – conditioning the way in which this information is interpreted by the observer and, therefore, the emotions generated in it. , because we are talking about art. It takes sensitivity and technical knowledge to do this and Lightenjin has specialists in the area of lighting design and LED lighting solutions that can make the difference in enhancing and good lighting of works of art, museum spaces, art galleries art, permanent or temporary exhibitions.