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2017 Edition, January 9, 2017

Complete Document

Recommended Practice for Museum Lighting

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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2017 Edition, January 9, 2017
  • Published Date: January 9, 2017
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)
  • Page Count: 154
  • ANSI Approved: Yes
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


“Light is the most efficient form of information transmission.” – Artist Nam Jun Paik

Museums and art galleries collect, preserve, and display natural artifacts and/or examples of human achievement. Effective exhibit lighting should balance exhibition presentation goals (which enrich the visitor experience) with conservation techniques (intended to protect artifacts for appreciation by many generations to come.)

Decisions regarding museum lighting may be influenced by a number of people with varying educational backgrounds and lighting expertise, including:

• The curator, who has a story to tell

• The exhibit designer, whose aesthetic presentation supports that story

• The conservator, whose role is to protect the collection from the ravages of time, heat, humidity, museum visitors, and light

The purpose of this document is to enhance the decision-making process by providing specific standards for satisfying the special requirements of museums and art galleries. Updated information is included on current lighting techniques and new lighting technology since 1996. While this document is intended primarily for lighting designers, other decision makers—such as the museum administrator, curator, conservator, and exhibit designer—can sensiuse it to improve understanding and communication throughout the exhibition process. The more the exhibition team understands both the aesthetic lighting design rules of thumb and general conservation techniques, the better will be the final presentation.

Exhibition lighting is the focus of this document, though information relating to other museum and art gallery applications is also addressed. Lighting design guidance for museum shops, restaurants, and office spaces is provided in other IES Recommended Practice publications and in The Lighting Handbook, 10th ed.2