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Preserving Paintings and Collections in Museums and Art Galleries with LED Lights

inside the national portrait gallery london

Studies have shown that UV lights that are often used in museums and art galleries can be harmful for paintings that are exposed to them for long periods of time. As a result, a trend has emerged of using LED lights that are keyed to specific colour spectrums.

As experts in and suppliers of LED lighting products, we recently reported that London’s National Gallery has recently fitted LED lighting in their picture galleries to ensure the safety of the paintings housed there, and optimise the quality of light, energy efficiency and reliability of the units. It’s been a battle for many museums and art galleries to maintain an open, well-lit space to exhibit their collections, and provide safe conditions to ensure that those collections remain in the best condition.

Incandescent Lighting Damaging and Deteriorating Art Work

Lots of museums and art galleries use soft lighting to illuminate the spaces, carefully considering the layout of the halls and the visibility of the art to the visitors. But studies have shown that this approach isn’t very good for the pieces of art on display, especially pre-19th century oil on canvas work such as Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. These iconic and much loved works of art have suffered the effects of years of unsympathetic lighting, to the point where the colours are losing their vibrancy, especially the yellow tones. Experts have identified the use of strong, harmful lighting as the cause of this deterioration, and it’s happening to works of art all over the world.

Switching to LED Lighting

It’s UV light, it seems, that is most damaging to art work and collections in museums. That’s why many museums and art galleries are switching from incandescent bulbs to LED lighting. In addition to saving energy, LED lighting also produces superior aesthetic qualities, therefore enhancing the art work without damaging it. The light from the LED looks very similar to the light produced by traditional halogen lamps that the museums used to use. “The difference isn’t perceptible,” Jens Stenger, a conservationist scientist at Yale University, told Wired. “If you don’t have a direct comparison, it’s hard to recognize the difference with the naked eye.”

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