Lighting is of paramount importance to the display of artwork. Pigments fade if overexposed, a painting’s vibrancy is lost if it is under-lit and expensive lighting can drain a museum’s financial resources. 

Blue light and UV light are especially damaging for paintings, but happily its absence makes no difference to the painting itself. ‘Museum quality’ glass used in framing usually includes some kind of UV filter.

But what abut those paintings and drawings that aren’t protected by glass? In the past, museums would put filters over incandescent bulbs. Now this no longer seems to be necessary: LEDs are increasingly providing many museums with some needed assistance.

These little light bulbs don’t give off any UV light at all, and what’s more, the type of light that they give off can be engineered (to make it look warmer, or more similar to daylight for instance) with a concoction of special metals. The difference between LEDS and traditional incandescent bulbs is almost imperceptible, say experts in conservation.

On top of that LED bulbs can last for a very long time: 50,000 hours according to one lighting design expert. They may be expensive to install, but over time they can make museums and galleries substantial savings.

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Museum Association

Getty Conservation Institute