Exhibition Lighting

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    • #132239
      Karen Chance

      Our museum galleries have aging and insufficient lighting fixtures, which we plan to upgrade over the next year. We are required to make the new fixtures LED, but they must also be cost effective, durable, and easily maintained. Most importantly, they must have good light quality that can be manipulated and controlled for the safety of the artifacts and for various effects. I would like to hire a lighting consultant with previous experience designing lighting for museums, to advise us in purchasing the best fixtures for our needs. Does anyone know of a good lighting consultant in or near Atlanta/Decatur? I would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks.

    • #132247

      Go to our website AandHconservation.org.

    • #132246

      For locating a qualified and experienced museum lighting designer, I recommend starting with the IALD – the International Association of Lighting Designers – They have a geographic member locator on their website: http://www.iald.org/membership/find.asp?altlink=24


      For learning about solid-state lighting (LED, OLED) and their limitations regarding color maintenance and drift over the life of the lamp, lumen output over time and efficiency drift, warranties to ask for when purchasing LED sources, I highly recommend obtaining and studying the online publication from the Getty Conservation Institute Museum Lighting Project
      Guidelines for Selecting Solid-State Lighting for Museums

      The entire Museum Lighting Research project at the GCI is extremely thorough with many museum lighting-critical studies and can be viewed at


      Conservation scientist Joseph Padfield has assembled an important museum lighting web resource at the National Gallery of London’s exceptionally complete study of museum lighting spectral power distribution curves – SPD – the relative spectral energy output of many museum light sources, including LED’s and halogens, and their relative potential to do harm to light-sensitive museum collections can be found at:



    • #132245
      Karen Chance

      Thanks to you both for your replies. Ms. Appelbaum, I wish you & Mr. Himmelstein lived closer to Atlanta — I’m sure you could make some big improvements in our gallery lighting. I have referred to your Museum Pests website and found it helpful, btw! I very much wanted to attend Mr Himmelstein’s lecture at SEMC, but was unable to go this year.

      Thanks also to Mr. Kronkright. I was aware of the first two sources but glad to know that others think they are worthwhile. I didn’t know about the Padfield site so I am glad for the suggestion.

      Happy Holidays!

    • #132244

      Dale, those are all excellent recommendations.

      I don’t know anyone in Atlanta, but Caroline Davenport is an experienced lighting designer out of Raleigh, North Carolina. and DJ Palin is in Nashville, TN.

      Another resource is a paper I wrote with Naomi Miller  that focuses on what we learned about choosing LED for our tests at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

      .  http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/2012_gateway_smithsonian.pdf


    • #132243

      You are welcome! Note that while many manufacturers claim that solid state (LED) lamps will last about 30 times as long as  incandescent lamps, there are two key caveats they frequently fail to mention: The color- and lumen consistent output of a high quality, aluminum-reflector, full-spectrum MR-16 (Ushio EuroStar Reflecto 35 watt) is around 2625 hours or 262 exhibition days in our testing here at the O’Keeffe Museum. LED lamp manufacturers claiming 30 times the life:

      Have OFTEN not tested one of their lamps for the full 78,750 hours – 3281 DAYS burning 24 hours a day or 9 YEARS OF 24-PER-DAY testing to make certain their lamps truly meet this claim.  Most LED lamps currently on the market have been manufactured commercially for less than 3 years.  It is impossible to test the accuracy and precision of that claim.
      Second, while the lamp may indeed light up after 6000 hours, the color balance and lumen output may have fallen off dramatically, making the lamp unusable. Only a very small number of manufacturers guarantee color maintenance and lumen output for 5 years or 18,250 hours. You would need a LED lamp to meet that performance standard to actually make the lamp cost effective enough so that the cost of energy saved, the BTU’s of heat not produced in the summer, the labor saved of changing lamps 7 times and the cost of repeated purchase ordering ended up actually saving the user money.

      Those guaranteed LED lamps are out there and there will be more and more of them in the coming years.  But right now, you REALLY have to do your homework to weed-out claims that are not backed-up with a money-back guarantee.

    • #132242

      I personally think the advantages of LEDs far outweigh the risks.

      We noticed some lamps changing color at Smithsonian American Art and worked with DOE and CREE to detail the mechanisms behind the changes.  Our report on color change on LEDs can be found in the link below.   Its worth noting  Halogen lamps can also change color over time; I am currently having some problems with one manufactures Halogen IR lamps changing color.


      The takeaway from this report  is that while LED products may not maintain their color quality throughout the claimed life of 25-50,00 hours, most high quality LEDs will last long enough to pay for themselves though a simple payback of reduced utility bills.  It is hard to guess how long products will last to museum standards; for high quality LED chips made in the last few months  my guess is they will look good for 9-12,000 hours, maybe longer (please see report above for details).  The length of payback will vary depending on the utility rates in your region, but saving energy is a good idea just about everywhere.

      Lastly, fixtures made with remote source LED technology will likely last their rated life and often come with good warranties.  However, track lighting fixtures using remote phosphors are often:  more expensive, more difficult to focus into small beams of light  and less energy efficient then the competing chip on board LED technologies.

      Hiring a lighting designer is the best way to work through these complexities to find good solutions for your particular museum.




    • #132241

      Scott, important information and good council!  You are a wise and good man, sir! I look forward to our next visit! It does not surprise me that CREE responded quickly – great engineers there, to be certain. Thanks for posting the link to your color change report!

    • #132240
      Karen Chance

      Thanks, Scott and Dale, for your contribution to this discussion. This is what I love about museum people — they are not only wise, but generous with their wisdom.

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