Light for art
To illuminate art is art in itself. Light, if well designed, captures the truth of the colours, emphasises the formal aspects of the work, suggests the paths to visit and establishes hierarchies of importance in the exhibiting journey.
But light is not only what we see. A museum displays precious and delicate artefacts whose aesthetic quality can be ruined with bad lighting, as well as damaging them by discolouring the pigments, accelerating the separation of the painted layers, cracking of the paint work or yellowing of the paper. A good lighting project must also consider these aspects, uniting safety and scenic presentation.
- ANALYSIS OF THE MATERIALS
To plan an exhibition, permanent or temporary, means not only making it easy to enjoy the artworks, but also and above all, to conserve them. Among the many disciplines involved, lighting plays a very important role, since at stake are not only the actual characteristics of the light but also those of the materials that the light strokes, touches, or passes through.
Different materials have different properties and photosensitivity categories. Marble, metal, ceramic and glass, for example, have a very low photosensitivity and therefore are quite resistant to any type of lighting. Paint, tempera, tapestries, but also prints, books and leather have a rather high photosensitivity and must therefore be illuminated with special care through an analysis focusing on the light source, lighting values and exposure times.
2. PREVENTING PHOTO DAMAGE
Some measures can be taken to reduce the effects of photo-damage caused by the exposure to UV and IR rays. Among these is the use of light sources characterised by a spectral composition with the lowest range of UV and IR rays, or in the case of incandescent sources, optics can be used that have a dichroic coating to reduce the heat emitted on the front. Alternatively, interferential filters can be used to “cut” most of the UV rays at the price of a small variation to the colour.
3. LED FOR ART
LED technology is perhaps the best solution for today’s needs, capable of emitting practically harmless light for the conservation of artworks because it is calibrated to the visible spectrum and therefore without UV or IR rays. LEDs also have the advantage of being able to be managed by electronic systems that allow controlling its intensity and spectral composition with extreme ease.