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Subject: Fluorescent lighting for exhibitions

Fluorescent lighting for exhibitions

From: Paul Himmelstein <aandh>
Date: Friday, June 27, 2003
Karen Potje <kpotje [at] cca__qc__ca> writes

>It has been suggested that in order to give an industrial look to an
>upcoming exhibition of works of art and documents on paper, we
>suspend banks of fluorescent light from the ceilings of our
>galleries rather than using the existing incandescent lighting
>system.  ...

It seems to me that the critical problem here is not how to get low
light levels using fluorescent lamps, but how to make it possible
for visitors to see the exhibited objects at these low light levels
given the nature of the lighting.  As described, the fluorescent
fixtures will provide unfocused, overall illumination to the
exhibition space.  This means that most surfaces within the field of
view of the visitor will be equally bright, making it difficult to
focus on the exhibited objects. While it is certainly possible to
design exhibitions in which objects lit at 50 lux or even lower are
clearly visible, the need for adaptation of the visitor's eyes, the
problems of glare and veiling reflection must be taken into account.
This is almost impossible to do using the type of fixture Karen has
mentioned. Focusing on the problem of reducing the output of
fluorescent lamps to an "acceptable" level is only enabling a
designer to do bad lighting, when the issue is really how can one
provide suitable lighting that preserves thE objects *and* makes
them easily visible to the viewer.

Paul Himmelstein
Appelbaum and Himmelstein
444 Central Park West
New York, NY  10025
Fax: 212-316-1039

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:7
                   Distributed: Friday, June 27, 2003
                        Message Id: cdl-17-7-002
Received on Friday, 27 June, 2003

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