Lighting Art at Home: To Light Art Is to Protect It
First-time visitors to the Louvre in Paris will often remark about how dark da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” appears to be. The explanation for this is simple: Preserving artwork, whether it’s the “Mona Lisa” or a favorite rock ‘n ‘roll poster, requires one to be sensitive to the light around it.
“A balanced spectrum of light is best for viewing a piece of art,” explains Marcia Prentice, designer and blogger at Lamps Plus. “Incandescent lights can be too ‘warm’, revealing a disproportionate amount of yellow and orange tones in an artwork, while fluorescent lights contain harmful UV rays which can fade artwork over time. For art lighting, I recommend using low-watt halogen lights for the rich, full spectrum of color they provide.”
There’s one lighting option that Prentice recommends against at all cost: “Absolutely keep artwork out of direct sunlight. Textiles can fade after only a few months of sun exposure, and photographic prints don’t last much longer.” While UV-protective glass can minimize the effect of sunlight upon art, prolonged exposure to sunlight and the heat that accompanies it is never recommended.