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Track Lighting Picture

If you run a gallery, there are a number of different things you should consider when installing track lighting. In general, there are three different things that you should consider: quality of lighting, flexibility and damage to your works of art. In this article, I will discuss all of these different considerations, concluding that LED track lighting is the best option available.

Quality of lighting: The first thing you should consider is the quality of the lighting. By this I don’t mean how good it is, but what type of lighting it provides (from the Latin “qualitas”). For galleries, you want lighting that can illuminate your works of art without illuminating much of the area around the work of light.

In order to get this quality of lighting, you’ll want two things. First, you want it to be directed. In other words, you want beams that shine only in one direction and not in others. Both halogen reflector bulbs and LED bulbs provide this quality (but halogen bulbs can damage your art, as I will discuss later).

Second, you want lighting that can be shaped into various quadrilateral shapes. This is done through the use of “screens”. Screens are placed on the opening of your fixture and actually shape the beam. Like the pillars of ancient buildings, you don’t want to make rectangles but isosceles trapezoids. The further the fixture is from the piece of art, the wider the beam will appear, so you’ll want to have it narrower at the source to compensate.

Flexibility: It is very important to have lighting that you can move around depending on where you want it to appear on your wall. Tracks themselves are difficult to move, so you’ll want to make sure the track fixtures are able to be easily moved from one end to the other. This allows you to move your fixtures to suit your artwork, rather than placing the artwork to suit the fixtures. Note, however, that, if you plan to use track lighting to illuminate art on a wall, you will need to install the tracks by that wall right at the beginning.

Damaging Art: UV radiation will gradually damage artwork. Normally, this is not a problem, but in a gallery, where art may be hung for literally centuries, it becomes a serious concern. Unfortunately, halogen lights, the traditional form of gallery lighting, produced UV radiation.

However, LED lighting produces no UV radiation at all. Until five years ago, LED lighting was unsuited to galleries, but recently, white LED lights were developed. As a result, LED lights provide the best gallery track lighting on the market today. They are directed and do not damage artwork.

In conclusion, then, track lighting should be directed, flexible and safe for artwork. LED track lighting provides all of these.

By Daniel Bader, Ph.D.

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