Text: Carina Buchholz, Lighting Application Management, Zumtobel Lighting

25. Mar 2013

LED lighting in art
How to achieve high-fidelity colour rendering

LED lighting: a curse or blessing when it comes to lighting art? There has been heated debate on this topic for a long time. In the end it was the positive experience obtained from practical applications of the technology in museums, together with ground-breaking scientific studies, that dispelled any final doubts about this milestone in the history of light sources. In 2012 solid state lighting finally asserted itself as a viable option in the museum world, offering a completely new perspective on the modification of luminous colours within a light source and how to achieve very good colour rendering.

The continuous dynamic development of optical semiconductor technology offers unimaginable possibilities for the interaction between people and works of art. However, it also provides new challenges and opportunities for museum and lighting specialists – and not only from a technical point of view. The discussion around LED technology has recently been dominated by two issues in particular: how can LED spotlights be applied to achieve optimum illumination of exhibits and thus make a positive contribution to the museum visitor’s perceptual experience? And are light-emitting diodes really a revolution in terms of preventing damage to exhibits, or will they perhaps deprive future generations of their cultural heritage? Thanks to comprehensive research and studies, Zumtobel has been able to find answers to these questions that are based on sound scientific knowledge.

Picasso brings it to light – the high quality of LEDs in museums

Zumtobel commissioned the Lighting Technology Department of the Darmstadt University of Technology to conduct a survey to address this specific issue. The evaluation parameters that are of particular relevance for art objects were expressly taken into account. These include both the electrical and photometric properties of luminaires, taking into account luminous colour, spectral radiance distribution, colour rendering, illuminance, potential damage, the connected load and, above all, the uniformity with which the painting is illuminated, as this is a key measure of the quality of how the artwork is presented. In laboratory tests analyses were performed on two spotlights (LED and halogen), an LED arc for indirect lighting, and an LED module. After measurements had been taken, the damage potential of the luminaires was evaluated according to CIE 157:2004i. The next step involved a field test to validate the determined values in an actual application. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 87.

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