Gallery lighting is usually reserved for museums, art showings and any rooms reserved for elegant displays. It is functional and used to highlight colors and shapes inherent in a piece of art. To accomplish this, the fixture needs to produce soft illumination in a targeted area. This is difficult to do with traditional bulbs, which tend to radiate in all directions. Special devices, like projectors, are needed for this task. While projectors are fairly easy to install, it is still best to consult with an expert before deciding on a model. Even a small miscalculation with the projector’s alignment or brightness will be noticeable to observers. This is a problem, because the focus should always be on the display, not the light.
All other forms of illumination, whether functional or decorative, are typically not focused on a single object. Even sophisticated LED ribbon or festoon lamps are omnidirectional in how they radiate. Gallery lighting, on the other hand, is more like a spotlight. In the world of theatre, these devices are used to direct attention to the most relevant performer on stage. Gallery lighting serves the same purpose, only it remains focused on a single area and emits much softer illumination.
Museums and art showings make frequent use of these fixtures, though any venue that wants to create a dramatic focus on a single object will find them useful. Hotels, restaurants, clubs, even churches install them in certain situations. They are appropriate for sculptures, paintings, art installations, precious exhibits and anything else that is to be a main focus of the area. Science, history and art museums prefer these projectors because they produce illumination that appears to come from within the object and radiate out. This is due to the projector’s ability to create intimate, subtle illumination that is customized to the object’s shape. Observers won’t be able to see any shadows cast by the projector, creating a striking result. In effect, this type of gallery lighting can create an impressive contrast between a work of art and its surroundings in terms of illumination. This enhances the color in the piece and highlights its subtleties.
This effect, however, is ruined if the fixture can be seen. Some museums substitute this form of illumination for recessed or tracked fixtures. While adequate, they cast shadows on and around the object that can be distracting to an observer. Gallery lighting projectors, though, are installed in the ceiling and are finely calibrated for the illuminated subject. These devices are easy to set up, even in buildings where there is little or no attic space. They have a small footprint and require a small aperture through the ceiling, making them highly inconspicuous. These projectors can radiate a horizontal beam, which is ideal for subjects sitting in the middle of a room. They can also produce an angled beam, which is better for wall-mounted art. There are hundreds of beam patterns available, from basic geometric shapes, to abstract patterns to customized branding images. The options are nearly limitless.
These energy efficient and compact devices can bring out the life in any design piece or artwork installation. Once in place, they can provide the flourish needed in any artistic space.