Night at the Museum:
Perfect lights for Perfect art
Night at the Museum:
Perfect lights for Perfect art
The modern museum experience is changing. A silent shuffle around a formal - and often dull - space is being replaced by dynamic displays and engaging events. Museums may have extended opening hours, allowing for after-work visits and holding special events or talks in the evening. Some even offer the ultimate ‘night at the museum’ experience, hosting sleepovers amidst the exhibits.
Lighting is essential to ensuring that artworks, artefacts and exhibits of any type and size are illuminated clearly. But lights at the museum have more than a functional role; they can also create ambience and help tell the story of the pieces on display. Here are our top tips for choosing lighting that helps create the ultimate museum environment, day and night.
Consider the Needs of The Space
Museums often combine pieces in a variety of mediums which need to be displayed in different ways - mounted on the wall or on a plinth, set behind glass in a display cabinet or freestanding on the floor.
A museum may frequently change displays to host a special or visiting exhibition, show pieces on loan from other museums or bring items out of storage that has taken on fresh relevance thanks to new discoveries or research.
It’s useful to start by thinking about the basic layout of the space and the variety of displays that you may need to house within it, so the scheme can be built from there.
Determine the Types of Fixtures Needed
A variety of displays means that different types of lighting fixtures are needed to do justice to each piece. This may include ceiling art lights to illuminate artworks mounted on the wall and small cabinet lights for jewellery, pottery or other small items displayed behind glass.
In an art museum, lights tend to be ceiling fixtures, with track lighting the recommended option. The track can be mounted directly to the ceiling surface or, if ceilings are high, suspended to bring the light closer to the ground. Track is customisable and lengths can be installed in straight lengths, or joiners can be used to create L-shapes, T-junctions or continuous circuits.
Ensure the Solution is Flexible
Flexibility is a key attraction and benefit of track lighting. Once the track is in place, track fittings can be moved and adjusted as needed without the need for an electrician. Standard fittings typically have a set beam angle which means every piece receives the same amount of light, so look for fittings with an adjustable beam angle so you can truly customise lighting for each exhibition.
Banno Lighting designed the L’Art range of track fixtures to ensure art is shown at its very best. The beam angle of the L’Art Zoom fitting can be adjusted from 10 degrees to 90 degrees at the fitting, and a further filter pack can be purchased to create spots, circles, squares and more. The L’Art Deluxe comes with 14 different filters, and the L’Art Multi has additional lenses that simply click in and out.
Choosing dimmable fixtures enables further customisation, as different works may require different levels of light. Both the L’Art Multi and L’Art Deluxe can be dimmed at the fixture for the ultimate bespoke approach, and the L’Art Zoom can be dimmed at the wall via a dimmer switch.
The Quality of Light is Important
Modern art lights don’t only need to be flexible. The quality of light itself is critical. The CRI, or Colour Rendering Index, value of light is important, as it refers to how the light source affects how colour is seen by the human eye. If the CRI value is low, then colours can appear washed out, and it’s hard to distinguish variations in shades. When the CRI value is high, colours are seen at their truest and most vibrant. Fittings in the L’Art range have a CRI value of 95, the highest possible.
LEDs are always recommended for museum picture lights because of their quality, and they also don’t contain UV which can be damaging to artwork. The long lifespan of LEDs reduces the need for maintenance and replacement, and they produce little in the way of excess heat. These are significant benefits in an environment where a large number of lights are used, in addition to the fact that LEDs are highly energy-efficient.
Whilst lighting should be sufficient to appreciate the items on display, if it’s too harsh and bright, it doesn’t provide an enjoyable experience for visitors. A museum may transport visitors to a specific time period, location or event, and lighting can be used creatively to support the narrative of the exhibition and enhance the feeling of being immersed in a story.
Creating an ambience is especially important in the evening when there’s less or no natural light available. You could opt to keep art picture lights at their daytime level but adjust the general ambient light to create a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere. Avoiding harsh or jolting changes in brightness as the visitor moves between spaces is important, with incremental differences in light providing a more seamless, comfortable experience.
We recommend seeking advice from a lighting expert to support you in designing the optimum lighting solution. Banno Lighting are experts in lighting art, so contact us with your floor plan to find out how we can help.
Book a free consultation with our art gallery lighting specialist.
Banno Lighting is located in Brooklyn, NYC. We are a small family owned business who specialize in Art Gallery Lighting.
172 Suydam St Unit 4 R Brooklyn, New York, 11221