Museum Lighting Techniques and Tips
Museum lighting systems have a range of features that include, but are not limited to, helping to guide the museum visitor through a space, setting a mood for an exhibit, focusing on particular artifacts, such as photos or sculptures, and ensuring the conservation of any items being displayed by protecting them from ultra-violet (UV) light damage.
Preventing UV Damage
Daylight, or natural sunlight, as well as fluorescent lighting can damage works of art because both of these light sources emit UV rays. They can especially damage items that are made of organic material, such as paper, textiles, and photography. However, that does not mean that neither is used as lighting in museums. It simply means that when these light sources are used in the overall lighting design that the UV energy is properly managed. In fact, fluorescent light fixtures are quite popular for general lighting and diffused indirect lighting because they are energy-efficient and have longer rated lives than other comparable light sources.
Ultra-violet light can be effectively managed using UV filters over light sources. We offer UV filters for both linear fluorescent lamps as well as MR and PAR-shaped light bulbs to help protect valuable artifacts. However, since UV light is not seen by the human eye these filters will not impact the viewing of the artwork by the museum visitor.
While most of our discussion has been about the ultra-violet end of the spectrum, it is important to note that infrared light, which creates heat, can also damage artwork. To minimize the amount of infrared energy reaching a museum artifact it is important to provide appropriate distance between what is being illuminated and the museum light fixture.
General Lighting and Accent Lighting Tip
Another museum lighting technique to provide both overall general illumination as well as important accent lighting is museum track lighting. Simply put, track fixtures are quite versatile. Lights can be moved along the track, the track can be different lengths, and a number of different lamp sizes and light sources can be combined. Track light fixtures can wash a wall in light or spotlight a particular item. Being able to combine all of these different lighting techniques makes track lighting very popular lighting for museums.