There are three ways that Illuminations Lighting Design can help any art gallery obtain better lighting equipment. As a design-build firm, we can plan the layout of the new system, find the very best and most energy efficient fixtures available, and install them from the ground up. As a design firm, we can create multiple photometric plans that will specific different options in fixture type and performance. This gives the curator a choice in what to ultimately contract their local electrician to install. Finally, we can also assist art consultants, architects and insterior designers as an art lighting consultant seeking aesthetic expertise in the application of specific fixture types.
The goal of art gallery lighting should always be to support the essence of the work on display without damaging the pieces or draining the curator’s budget in operating and replacement costs. Art lighting equipment should be reliable and feature the highest level of industry standard quality in order to ensure consistently high-end results. Sourcing this type of equipment is often difficult without the assistance of a fine art lighting firm such as Illuminations Lighting Design, and installing it requires a level of skill that only an art consulting specialist firm can accomplish in a typically challenging arena such as this. A number of technical and aesthetic considerations must also be taken into account to develop the best possible system at the point of the client’s budget.
When at all possible, modern art lighting fixtures should be low voltage. Low voltage equipment uses far less power than high voltage does, and it can save a gallery a small fortune in power costs. Low voltage art lights are now made in every conceivable fixture type, and this variety gives the curator a complete freedom of choice in selecting what will work best for particular displays and art genres. It is now common for firms such as ours to design an entirely new system using low voltage equipment alone. Such products as framing projectors, recessed ceiling lights, track lights, pinhole lights, and eyeball lights have become common in the low-voltage industry and can be used to achieve superior results at affordable operating costs.
It is also important to save money on replacement costs by investing in equipment manufactured at commercial, specification grade quality. In most cases, such luminaires can only be sourced through a professional design firm such as Illuminations. General specification equipment, which many freelance residential electricians or end users can obtain through retail channels, is not as reliable and typically features a shorter lamp life. Commercial grade lamps are much more likely last as expected and generally carry a much better manufacturer warranty in the unlikely event they do not.
Something else that curators must always be mindful of is the amount of heat that is generated inside the art gallery. Lighting fixtures will very quickly heat up the room without preventative engineering. Special technology must be built into the fixture to dissipate the heat during operation. It is unlikely that less expensive fixtures are going to feature such technology. More specialized equipment is specifically designed to dissipate as much forward throw heat as possible. Not only will this better protect artwork; it also helps keep the building cooler and helps lower cooling costs on commercial lighting projects.
Even more important than heat control is filtration of ultraviolet and infrared radiation. These are two very harmful wavelengths of invisible light that no gallery can afford to allow near any painting for any length of time. Canvases dry and colors fade when exposed to UV and IR radiation from over the picture lights. In order to prevent this, fixtures have to be manufactured with special filters that block these frequencies and emit only the visible wavelengths of light needed to illuminate the piece.
All this being considered, we must also take into account most art galleries are lighting a wide range of painting sizes, photography, and sculpture. Any given opening will more than likely group various pieces by artist, historical period, culture, or genre. However, even within such a grouping there is a great diversity in individual works. Sometimes more eclectic showings will feature a variety of art types and subjective groupings of theme. Gallery lighting in either case must accommodate this diversity with an appropriate variety of fixture types, luminance intensities, and fixture mount positioning. This allows the curator to effectively light both individual pieces and the collection as a whole.
Contact us at 713-863-1133 for more information of fine art lighting services, low voltage recessed lighting and art gallery lighting. We are located in Houston Texas but provide lighting and house lighting plans in Austin TX, El Paso Texas, San Antonio TX, College Station Texas, Beaumont TX, Dallas Texas, Midland Tx and points beyond.