What is the Best LED Lighting for an Art Gallery?

By Mark Watola on 11/05/2020

  Photo by Seven Storm

Preserving the Art

LED lights almost always lead to energy savings and reduced energy costs. LED lights find use in applications from hotels to outdoor lighting to greenhouses and warehouse lighting. When it comes to art, LEDs have additional benefits in preserving the art.

Display lighting with a CRI, or color rendering index, of 80 or above provides true color, a more accurate representation of the artists’ intent. The higher the CRI number, the more the light will display true color.

Color temperature is measure of a bulb’s “warmth” or “coolness” measured in Kelvins. For art, a color temperature from 2000K to 3000K is ideal to accent the light while maintaining the color palette.

Paintings and photographs deteriorate over time in sunlight, but LEDs do not emit harmful UV that damage paintings. Additionally, LEDs produce less heat which also negatively alter paintings and photos.

Gallery lighting works best from the ceiling, ideally at a 30 degree angle, to evenly light wall pieces and prevent casting too many shadows.

The setting for the gallery should have the ambient light secondary to the direct light, which is focused on the art. Generally, have the direct light 3 times brighter than ambient light, so dimmers and lighting control comes into effect.

When done properly, LEDs can replace previous fixtures with a similar color temperature without notice. Conduct tests to make sure you have the right light for the space, before converting all the lights at once.

There are several reasons to use LEDs for museum lighting. But how do you decide which ones to use?

Different LED Lights to Use

Whether pieces sell or the exhibition moves, galleries constantly change. With the right gallery lighting, showcase each piece and highlight details how the artist intended. Choose from many types of LED light bulbs and fixtures to suit your needs.

LED Fixtures

If you arrange partitions to direct patrons through a temporary setup, LED track lights work as adjustable ceiling lights to save valuable floor space. Their versatility adds personality to an artistic space, making them a popular choice.

Wall washers light up an entire wall. Showcase murals, large paintings, a series of paintings, or an artist’s collective works with wall washers. A lit wall could also act as negative space in gallery lighting design to contrast busy works.

Other ceiling fixtures, like recessed lights, provide down lighting. Also known as can lights, recessed lights tuck into the ceiling to keep the attention on the art and not the light fixture. Place them close to the wall to illuminate hung paintings and photographs. Create separate space by installing them directly above statues, ceramic, and other medium displays.

LED Bulbs

Use different bulbs in track lighting or recessed lights to create distinct lighting effects. Lighting an entire wall or a single creation requires different bulbs to achieve those effects.

For directional or spot lighting, use PAR bulbs. PAR, or parabolic aluminized reflector, vary in beam angles. The number after “PAR” represents diameter in 1/8th of an inch. Beam angles lower than 20 degrees are described as a narrow spot, ideal for gallery lighting. HomElectrical carries many different LED PAR bulbs, ranging in size from PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR36, and PAR38.

Similar to PAR bulbs, MR, or multifaceted reflector, bulbs offer multiple spans. Use MR11 and MR16 bulbs for directional and accent lighting. MR bulbs differ not just in size, but also by lamp base. Both MR11 and MR16 bulbs come in E26, GU4, GU5.3, or GU10 base offerings. As they support narrow to wide beam angles, you can use MR bulbs to feature small or large works of art.

Keep in mind these general guidelines and ideas of using LED lights for gallery lighting.

Preserve your art by switching to LED bulbs and fixtures for your museum lighting. HomElectrical has a huge selection of LED lights to suit any of your display lighting needs. Never stop saving the arts with HomElectrical!

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