It’s a tired saying: A picture’s worth a thousand words. But the newest trend in home lighting juices up the adage: A picture you can actually see takes 50 watts and 3 AA batteries.
Historical Picture Lighting
Picture lighting used to be relegated to museums. Think the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum just off The Fenway in Boston. The very wealthy Mrs. Gardner left her home and private museum to the good people of Boston in perpetuity with one caveat: that no one ever change the position of the paintings, leaving them in precisely the same spot on each wall forever.
The cavernous rooms of the one-time residence feature soaring ceilings evoking a 15th-century Venetian palace. While the perimeter rooms are lighted somewhat from the center courtyard, some paintings have lighting over the frames so that museum visitors can study the detail in the paintings.
Recently, 7,000 LED bulbs were installed in the Sistine Chapel to highlight Michelangelo’s painted ceiling. The ceiling took the artist four years to paint and another several hundred to be damaged from sunlight exposure and standard halogen lighting. The switch to LEDs puts a whole new light on the subject.
Individual Electric Frames and Wall Canopies for Modern Home Photo Lighting
Fast forward to today’s home.
While many homes are finished with ceiling cans and ample floor and table lighting, individual picture frame lighting today can be readily clipped onto the frame of the picture. A number of photo frame styles come equipped with LED lighting powered by AA batteries. Others have cords. The cord runs behind the photo to an outlet (generally low on the wall).
The question is whether you prefer to have a wall canopy installed by your electrician to power the electrical picture light(s), or invest in an inexpensive plastic cord cover kit that disguises the wires, which are paintable so the trim strip can be made to match the wall.
LED and Rail Lighting for Galleries and Museums
Art galleries today tend to rely on rail lighting to be able to accommodate changing out the art multiple times in a year. Galleries can invest a significant sum in lighting. Lighting general common areas is one thing, while illuminating preserved, artwork displays is another. Newer lighting installations have rows upon rows of lighting rails with layers of lighting used in each, which is not so different from stage lighting for the performing arts.
Wired magazine reported in Q4 last year that LEDs are the preferred light in order to minimize damage to treasured paintings. For example, the yellow pigment van Gogh used (lead chromate) has darkened noticeably over time, largely due to blue and UV light. Museums tried installing
LED Colored Bulbs Minimize UV Damage
UV filters over inefficient incandescent bulbs to ameliorate the damage. Then along came LEDs, which don’t exude any UV rays. However, LED’s do have an unnatural fluorescent similarity. To get over that hurdle, museums are installing compositions of LED colored bulbs: purple LED bulbs are a collection of metals called a phosphor. The metals in the phosphor absorb the purple light emitting other colors that combine to make white light, as the Wired report explains.
The goal is to play with the layers of LED rays to result in a light that is close to traditional halogen.
Adjustable Recessed LED Lighting Fixtures
Adjustable recessed fixtures are can lights with a directional functionality. They come in LED and even retrofit trims. These recessed adjustable lights can be directed to exactly the proper wall height to highlight a photo or décor on a fireplace mantel. Because they are ceiling mounted lights, the likelihood of changing them often is next to nothing. So, take some time on your ladder with a second person on the floor level to point the light exactly right. Chances are, you won’t be back on that ladder until the day the bulb burns out. With LEDs, that could be a long, long time.
Track Lighting and More
Track lighting has been with us since the ‘70s. First introduced as a way to extend the light path lighting from existing ceiling wiring, track lights have held their looks over time. Small galley kitchens lit by track lighting allows one single electrical source to highlight the working areas in a kitchen and works on smaller assemblies of paintings on a wall too.
With all the alternatives available, a homeowner today has big picture options. To learn more and find out how Allstar can help you achieve your lighting goals, call 303-399-7420.