LED Lighting for Museums and Galleries
Jun 26 2019
When it comes to lighting, museum and gallery owners are interested in two things; colour temperature and colour rendering index (CRI).
In the past, museums and galleries have been sceptical about LED technology, questioning its ability to offer true colour rendering and preferring halogens for their better quality of light. And, at the time, they were probably right.
But that was then. Today's LEDs are a completely different story. With improved colour temperature and colour rendering, LEDs are finally ready to take on the challenge of museum and gallery lighting.
People who frequently visit museums and galleries will have become accustomed to viewing art under halogen lights. Halogens have a colour temperature between 2,700 and 3,000K, which is considered very "warm." Moreover, halogens become warmer (more amber and orange) when they are dimmed.
With LEDs, control over colour temperature becomes much more precise. As well as being available in a wider range of colour temperatures (2700K to 7000K), LEDs also hold their colour temperature when dimmed.
Colour Rendering Index (CRI)
As well as colour temperature, museum and gallery owners look for lighting with a high colour rendering index. CRI works by assigning a light source a number from zero to one hundred based on its ability to faithfully render colours compared to a reference source, typically natural light.
Since people are used to the warmth of halogen lighting, the CRI accuracy of a true 3000K LED bulb, minus the yellow-orange of the halogen, can come as a surprise. Colours appear more vivid and true and, as an added bonus, white walls and bases, a common feature of modern museums, appear less yellow.
Ultra Violet and Infra Red
Traditionally, museums and galleries have often appeared dim. This is because the ultra violet (UV) and infra red (IR) radiation given off by halogen lighting causes damage overtime. To protect artwork and antiques, museums have had to use UV filters and low light settings to prevent fading and heat damage.
With LEDs it becomes possible to light fragile objects at a much brighter level. LEDs don't emit UV or infra red heat, allowing art and fragile pieces, such as papers and textiles, to be brightly lit without risk of damage.
Of course, light quality isn't the only motivation for using LED Lighting. LEDs use considerably less energy than their halogen counterparts and last many times longer, making them far more cost effective to use. Despite a high initial outlay, LEDs soon pay for themselves.
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