As you may remember from a previous post or your last visit, the renovation of our new Korean Gallery is well underway. But before we get into the fantastic Korean art that will soon be on display, let’s take a peek at how the upgrades are coming along.
We’re always looking for new ways to go green at Pacific Asia Museum. Obvious upgrades like our new HVAC system help us keep operation costs down to devote more of our funds to art conservation, exhibitions and programs while reducing our carbon footprint. But there are also other, less obvious ways to minimize our environmental impact in a cost-effective way, and as we renovate our permanent galleries, we’ll be taking advantage of a lot of new technologies!
To keep on top of innovations, our curatorial and collections departments have to keep up on their reading. Two recent reports connected to the Getty Conservation Institute have helped exhibition production manager John Cline determine how we can best use advances in LED lighting instead of traditional halogen lamps as he designs the exhibition space and how it will be lit. While LED technology has been around for a while, it has only recently approximated the color of natural daylight, which is optimal for viewing art. Because of this development, museums are now more interested in the advantages of LEDs: they produce less heat, use less energy, and last longer. This is due to the way LEDs produce light: it’s a process called electroluminescence, which produces visible light much more efficiently than a traditional filament, meaning less heat is produced and less energy is wasted. Filaments create light more widely across the spectrum, meaning that energy is spent creating light we can’t see as well as excess heat. So while we’re using less energy to keep the galleries lit, we’ll also be using less energy to cool them!
Aside from the green benefits, LEDs will help us preserve the artwork in the galleries as well. Light can significantly damage artwork over time, particularly paintings and textiles, which is why we often rotate such pieces off view in regular rotations. Invisible light including ultraviolet light is a particular problem, and since LEDs don’t produce much invisible light at either end of the spectrum, they can help minimize damage over the long term.
However, all of this effort going into lighting design has a very specific end goal: to use the lighting to shape the gallery spaces and enrich the visitors’ interaction with the art on view. “Lighting may not be something all visitors notice, but it’s a central concern for the exhibition team because of its power to transform an exhibition experience,” said curator Bridget Bray. “When it’s done poorly, it’s distracting and takes away from the enjoyment of the art.” So now that you know all about our new, more efficient lighting, take a minute to look closely at the lighting that will be used in the new Korean Gallery. ~CM