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Good Lighting for Museums, Galleries and exhibitio

Visual
experiences
W
: hetherthefocusisartorscience,

technologyorhistory,thepresentation
needstobeappealing,interestingand
varied.Andthatiswherelightingplaysan
importantrole:itcreatesvisualexperiences
inanyexhibition,ithelpsmodulateand
accentuatethevisuallandscape,itenhances
theimpactoftheitemsondisplay.The
visualambiencemustnotcausefatigue.On
thecontrary,itshouldstimulatebutnot
confuse.Inlargebuildings,differentiated
roomdesignisalsoarequirement.

Lightspaces:
Lightingisvitalforspatialimpressionandenjoymentofart.Differentlightcoloursandbeamspreads,differentdesignsand
arrangementsofluminairesandlampscreatedifferentlightingsituationslightspacesdesignedtomeettherelevantneeds
oftheexhibition.
Specialattentionneedstobepaidtoconservationrequirements.Lightprotectionplaysanimportantroleinanyexhibition
room.
Thereismoretoamuseumthanjustwhatitdisplays;itisalsoaplaceofresearch,wherecollectionsarestored,preservedand
managed.Onlyintherightlightingcanmuseumstaffworkeffectively.Lightingalsodrawsattentiontotrippinghazardsand
reducestheriskofaccidents.Soalthoughthelightingdesignerhasagreatdealoffreedominexhibitionrooms,functional
lightingmustalwaysbeprovided.

Action of light :

The design and configuration of exhibition room lighting depends on many planning parameters. Foremost amon

Roomlighting:

Diffuselighting:

Lightingforexhibitionroomsinmuseumsismadeup
ofdiffuseanddirectionallight.Therelativeamounts
andresultingmixofthetwotypesoflightdetermines
theharshnessoftheshadowscastbypictureframesand
thethreedimensionalimpactofsculpturesandspatial
objects.Thediffuseanddirectionallightmixalsode
finestheoverallimpressionmadebytheroom.

Diffuselightingilluminatesroomzonesorobjects
fromasurfacethatradiateslightinalldirections.At
thesiteofillumination,i.e.intheroomzoneoratthe
objectilluminated,thedirectionfromwhichthelight
comescannotbeclearlydetermined:thelightflow
ingintotheroomandovertheobjectsisnot
directional.Whereitcomesfromverymany
directions,i.e.wheretheradiantsurfaceislarge,the
lightingproduceslittleornoshadowing.

Acloselyrelatedmatterhereisthedistinctionbetween
roomandexhibitlighting.Thediffuselightingisalmost
allgeneratedbytheroomlighting,whichdetermines
Exhibitlighting:
thedistributionofbrightnessandsetslightingaccentsin
thehorizontalplane.
Exhibitlightinguseshardedgeddirectionallightto
accentuateindividualitemsondisplay.Asageneral
Roomlightingaloneisrarelyenoughtomeetallan
rule,itneedstobesupplementedbysofterroom
exhibitionsneeds.Conversely,thedirectionallighting
lighting.Exhibitlightingbasedonspotsaloneis
usedtoilluminate
advisableonlywhereaparticularlydramaticeffectis
required.
exhibitsdoesnotprovidebrightenoughroomlighting
exceptinafewmostlysmallandbrightinteriors.
Otherwise,astimulatingspatialexperienceisobtained
withamixofdiffuse(room)anddirectional(exhibit)
lighting.

Directionallighting:
Directionallightingisgeneratedmostlybypunctual
lightsourcesi.e.lampsthataresmallinrelationto
thelightingdistanceorspotsofsimilardesign.The
lightfallsdirectlyontotheobjectilluminated,
strikingit,orpartsofit,atanangledefinedbythe
geometryofthelightingarrangement.Wherethe
surfaceoftheobjectisuneven,clearlydefined
shadowsoccur.Theseenhancethevisualimpactof
threedimensionalsurfacesbutcanalsobeasource
ofvisualinterferenceiftheyaretoodominantortoo
large.

Diffuse/directionallighting:
Inmanyapplications,lightcannotbeclearlydefinedaswhollydiffuseorwhollydirectional.Thisisthecase
wherethesurfaceradiatingthelightisneitherlargenorpunctuale.g.aspotwithadiffuserdisc.Dependingonthe
diameterofthediscandonthelightingdistance,shadowsarenarrowerorwider,harsherorsofter.
Diffuse/directionallightingalsooccurswhereasurfaceisilluminatedorbacklittoproducediffuselightingandpartof
thelightismadetoradiateinaparticulardirectionandisthuspartiallydirectional.Thedirectionfromwhichthelight
comescanbeseenontheobjectsilluminated.However,theshadowingthatoccursonexhibitsislessclearlydefined
thanifthelightwereentirelydirectional.Themodelingisrenderedmoresubtlebythebrighteningeffectofthediffuse
lightingcomponent.
Diffuse/directionallightingcanalsobeproduced,forexample,bylinearlampsinappropriatelydesignedluminaires.
Here,shadowingdependsonthepositionoftheluminaireinrelationtothepicture:wallwasherswithtubularfluorescent
lampsmountedhorizontallyorparalleltotheupperedgeofthewallproducehardedgedshadowsbeneathhorizontal
pictureframes,whereastheshadowscastbytheverticalpartoftheframearebarelydiscernible.

Avoidingcastshadows:
Directionallightproducesformshadows.Whereitalsoresultsincastshadowsonneighboringobjects,thehardcontours
andobscureoriginofsuchshadowsaredisturbing.Castshadowsareavoidedbyensuringanappropriatemixofdiffuse
anddirectionallight,correctpositioningofthelightsourceproducingthedirectionallightorappropriatepositioningof
theilluminatedobjectsinrelationtooneanother.

Themostimportantlightingsystemsusedinexhibitionroomsare:

The most important lighting systems used in exhibition rooms are:


luminous ceilings with opal glass enclosure (dif- fuse light) or satinised and textured glass (diffuse/ directional),
indirect luminaires (dif- fuse),
cove luminaires (diffuse),
wallwashers (directional or diffuse/directional),
spot ?
lamps.
luminousceilingswithopalglassenclosure(diffuse
light)orsatinisedandtexturedglass(diffuse/

?wallwashers(directionalor
diffuse/directional),

?indirectluminaires
(diffuse),

?spotlamps.

Exhibitsinthelimelight:

Medium-scale, large and very large exhibits and the light that falls on them are seen to full effect only from a dist

Whatkindoflighthaswhatimpact?
Anexhibitinthelimelightis(almost)alwaysanexhibitindirectionallight.Whathappenswhenchangesaremadein
directionoflightandbeamangle?Whatdoobjectslooklikewithandwithoutbrightsurroundings?Whatdifferencecan
luminaireaccessoriesmake?Answersarefoundinthephotographsonpage7,whereaportraitandanonfigurative
paintingarepresentedasexamplesoftwodimensionalpicturesandafragmentofanancientsculptureandaredvasefor
threedimensionalobjects.
Basicallyspeaking,theimpactofanychangeontheserelativelysmallexhibitsisthesameforlargescalepicturesand
objects.Theonlydifferenceisthattheyneedmorelight:higherpowerlampsorgreaternumbersofspotsneedtobeused
forilluminatinglargeobjects.Averylargeobject,suchasacaroraplane,canalsobeilluminatedfromseveralpoints.
Thismakesforstrikingvisualimpactfromvariousviewingangles.

Calculationoftheoptimalpositioningofa
luminaireforpicturesonawallroomheight,
observationzone,sizeofpictureandoptimal
viewingangle(fig.onleft)aretheparameters
definingtheoptimalpositionofawalllighting
luminaire.Theupperedgeofthepicture
determinesthespotlightopeningangle(B:
30,C:60)withaconstantangleof
inclinationof30.Angleslessthan30can
resultinreflectionsattheupperedgeofthe
picture(criticalobservationzone).The
mathematicalformulaforcalculatingthe
distancexbetweenspotlightandwallfor
illuminatingapicturewiththeheightyis:x
=ytan30(fig.onright).

Directionallighting(left)
accentuatesexhibits,planarlighting
(right)makesforuniform
illumination.

Day light :

Interior lighting with daylight is an architectural challenge that absolutely must be addressed and resolved at the

Daylight museum:

Public museums built in the first half of the 19th century had to rely on daylight. From early times, architects inco
For a long time, despitethe availability of artificial lighting, every new museum was built as a daylight facility. But
Today, our knowledge of lighting engineering coupled with modern control and regulation technology makes it po

Daylight and artificiallight :

If daylight and artificial light are mixed, their rays should be fully blended be- fore they fall on an exhibit. This als

thelampsusedforartificiallightingradiatelightof
particularcolours,whilethespectralcompositionof
daylightchangesallthetime.Inaddition,thetwo
havedifferentanglesofincidenceanddifferentbeam
angles.Thisgivesrisetoconflict;theappearanceof
exhibitsisdistortedifthetwolightformsarenot
fullyblended.Theonlyalternativetoblendingis
segregation.Thismeanskeepingthedaylightzone
andthezoneilluminatedbyartificiallightfarenough
aparttoensurethatthetwotypesoflightdonot
interferewithoneanotherunlessthetwilightis
deliberatelyusedtocreateaparticularatmospherein
theroom.

Light
protection :
Fading,yellowing,darkening,discoloring,twisting,bending,splintering,tearing,
swelling,shriveling,shrinking,dissolvingitsoundslikeadirelistof
consequences.Inactualfact,exhibitsdisplayedindaylightorunderartificiallighting
arenotnormallyexposedtomorethanoneofthesehazards.