LED art gallery lighting systems have advanced greatly in recent years, quickly replacing halogen and other technologies in most respects.
Art galleries have unique lighting needs, as they must consider the subject’s sensitivity to light, in addition to aesthetics. LED lighting delivers in both areas, with precise illumination that’s safe to use with any subject.
Contour projectors are featured in art galleries around the world, and the newest generation of projectors feature LED technology. There are several reasons for making the switch, even if your venue already has contour projectors in place. Those reasons include:
1. Improved safety – Most lighting experts are confident that LED fixtures are safer to use with artwork, compared to halogen, incandescent and other options. That’s because LED lighting emits a fraction of the heat and radiation that halogen does. About 90 percent of the energy that goes into a halogen bulb is wasted as heat. LED lighting, by contrast, is often cool enough to touch. It is therefore safe to use in close proximity to heat-sensitive materials.
LED lighting is also ideal for subjects sensitive to UV radiation, including prints, fabrics and paintings. Like with heat, LED lighting emits a small amount of UV radiation, compared to other options. With reduced UV output, subjects will hold onto their color much longer.
Some LED contour projectors are also insulation contact, or IC, rated. An IC rating means the projector can be installed adjacent to insulation, without risk of fire. This is due to the projector housing’s design, which does not emit substantial heat. As such, the projector housing can be blanketed with insulation and remain safe. In buildings where there is a lot of insulation (this is common for energy efficient structures), an IC-rated projector is typically recommended.
2. Extended lifespan – LED lighting receives a lot of attention for its long-lived nature. LED fixtures are a recent invention, compared to halogen and similar technologies, so they run on modern engineering. The semiconductor die that powers an LED diode is extremely precise and wears down slowly, so it is rated for up to 100,000 hours (or more, in some cases) before replacement is expected.
Compare this to halogen lamps, which may only last a few thousand hours before they are no longer viable. That means more frequent replacement, maintenance crews in and out of the gallery, and the frustration that comes with never having every light on at once. An LED framing projector mitigates these issues, lasting years with little to no maintenance required.
3. Elite performance – LED art gallery lighting systems have caught up to halogen in terms of performance. This is largely due to ongoing improvements in LED lighting, like the introduction of Cree’s XHP series of LED lamps. The Cree XHP is a breakthrough for projectors because it provides greater output without the need to expand the light’s footprint. According to Cree, its XHP LEDs generate twice the lumens of the brightest single-die LED on the market, at a comparable watt-to-lumen ratio.
Modern LED systems, including the Cree XHP series, can exceed the 90+ color rendering index, or CRI, threshold. Contour projectors built with the XHP can render color as well as halogen in most circumstances. As accurate color representation is key for gallery exhibits, a high CRI LED system is a major step forward.
LED art gallery lighting systems provide impressive versatility, too, as they can be used with a large array of subjects. That’s because LED framing projectors can be fixed with one of several masks, which screen out light that isn’t needed. The goal is to eliminate spill illumination completely, keeping only the light that is aimed at the subject. This is how art framing projectors create the incomparable lit-from-within effect that other systems can’t manage.
For paintings, prints and photographs, a set of adjustable shutters is the best option. When attached to the projector, they can be used to precisely frame any square or rectangular subjects.
If the subject is a sculpture, model, installation or other irregularly-shaped piece, a custom-cut brass template can be fixed to the projector instead. This template is also one of a kind, and is designed to fit the subject’s shape exactly, creating the desired lit-from-within effect. For theatrical or complex effects, a stainless steel gobo can provide the needed mask.
Some LED framing projectors also come with a modifiable optical system. This means the projector can be optimized for any distance, including long throws down an extended corridor. Further, the onboard focal lenses are typically achromatic, which reduces lighting abnormalities and ensures a sharper edge.
LED art gallery lighting systems are capable of streamlined, sharp illumination, and can do this without intruding on the display. No other art lighting technology can match this approach, making contour projectors the best of class in the industry.