So you’re ready to show off your art or photography collection.
How should you light it for maximum impact? Brilliant Lighting designers receive questions
from amateur home gallery owners quite frequently…here are a few tips we share to
help make the most of your collection.
Whereas most rooms require a balance of ambient, task and
accent lighting, the gallery will be heavily skewed toward accent lighting.
After all, our intention is to clearly accentuate the art on display.
This article will not address ambient lighting in gallery spaces except to
say that it should be simple. The following tips outline the configuration
of accent lighting for the actual artwork in the room.
Choose a Flexible Lighting System
Art galleries, even home galleries, should typically be
equipped with a picture lighting system that may be easily reconfigured to illuminate
new or relocated pieces easily. Avoid directional cans (recessed fixtures that
pivot to direct light). These fixtures may rotate to light different areas,
but you will not have enough light for an especially large piece. Historically, track lighting and
monorail lighting have been the systems of choice when lighting galleries.
Choose Lamps with Good Color Rendering Abilities
The Color Rendering Index of a lamp (aka light bulb) is, in
simple terms, its ability to display the colors of illuminated objects. More
specifically, CRI is a number between 1 (monochromatic light) and 100 (the sun)
representing the breadth of the visible light spectrum a light source emits. For example, fluorescent lamps such as
those in office buildings and many kitchens obviously have a very low
color rendering index. Many colors look the same or nearly the same under such
light. Most incandescent lamps have very high CRIs. Unfortunately, they lack precise
directional characteristics desired when lighting art. One benefit of
low-voltage track and cable systems is that they typically make use of halogen
lamps. Halogen lamps combine nearly perfect color rendering abilities (typically
100) with precise beam control.