this article appeared in Luce e Design n.2/2010, March 2010
More and more I have begun to integrate LED illumination into my museum projects. While not yet commonplace in temporary lighting installations I push for their inclusion in my projects as they serve as a safe and reliable tool for illuminating in smaller spaces with limited power availability.
The main challenge of "Roma. La Pittura di un Impero" was to make the antique roman walls, celebrated in the exhibition, float. The exhibition design helped to create an environment in which we could control the light completely, as well as hide lighting sources. On offer were dozens of examples of Roman painting, displayed directly on their original walls. Mounting the antique walls was no small challenge, but even more so was the idea to create an individual halo of light for each work, each irregularly sized and some weighing upwards of one ton. Creating this floating effect helped to define to the massive nature of each wall section but also define each wall as an object in itself. A perimeter natural white LED system was hidden around amongst the wall bracing to safely and tidily optically detach the work from the fabric covered background.
One properly backlit, each wall painting received a unique lighting plan to create three-dimensionality and depth. LED spots managed with DMX dimming were ideal in projecting a specifically tailored color corrected illumination. The front illumination was carefully calibrated to visually balance the colors and textures of the work with strong backlight ring of light.
For a select few roman portraits also highlighted in the exhibition I required a very small LED spot. Here, the Ilti luce Tik LED fixture offered me with a very small focusing luminaries which was safe for the works, and safe for my peace of mind. Once installed and focused in the vitrines, the lighting would be forever isolated as opening the cases required special art-handlers and curators no longer available. In a space where fiber-optics where not an option, nor desired, the Tik came to the rescue. I knew that I could leave the lighting for the duration of the exhibition and not worry about maintenance.
LED lighting offers me with new tools and many options for many maintenance-heavy projects. Unlike theater or special events, a museum or architectural project must remain intact for months or years. Frequently museum technical staff does not have the necessary experience to maintain lamps and filters in carefully focused exhibitions. While the range of types of luminaries based on LED is still somewhat limited, this new equipment offers me the security of being able to leave the exhibition and rest assured it will maintain its original character. "Roma. La Pittura di un Impero" was open for more than four months and upon my return to view the exhibition at then end, I happily found each work looking as fresh as when I had left it.