New lighting offers truer views with halogen shop lights
In fact, the overall re-lighting of the galleries and individual works of art at The Frick Collection has been a major two-year project funded by the Annie Laurie Aitken Charitable Trust. This critical aspect of display had not been modified significantly since the museum’s opening sixty-three years ago. Now able to take advantage of important advances in halogen lighting technology, the project has achieved astonishing yet subtle results. The serene visual quality of the galleries is preserved, but visitors now experience the Collection and rooms with an even illumination that shows the treasures to their best advantage.
The first phase of this project, initiated in 1997 under former Director Charles Ryskamp, involved replacing all of the existing picture lights attached to the frames of individual paintings, casting, in many cases limited overall illumination and glare over their subjects. Truer colors have been revealed through the use of halogen bulbs, which are energy-saving and produce a fraction of the heat of conventional lighting, thereby further improving the Collection’s ability to preserve its masterpieces. The system used was developed in the United Kingdom to meet today’s stringent museum conservation requirements, and this is its first application in the United States.
The exquisite visual results of the first phase served immediately to point out the deficiencies in the lighting in other parts of the museum. Under current Director Samuel Sachs II, the second phase of the project has begun, and seeks to provide an overall balance to the quality of lighting throughout the galleries. The main challenge of this phase is in improving the skylit spaces, of which there are several in The Frick Collection. Viewing conditions in these spaces are affected by outside weather, especially in the expansive West Gallery, for example, which is home to treasures by Goya, Veronese, Turner, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, as well as Renaissance furniture and bronze sculptures. An on-going study of light levels this year will help the museum better control illumination in such spaces in ways yet to be defined.
Both phases of the re-lighting project have been designed and implemented by the architectural firm Bickerdike Allen Partners of England.
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Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.discount-light-bulbs.com.
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