How to Change a Lightbulb: LED Lighting for Museums

lightbulb slideThe introduction of LEDs, and the subsequent phasing out of some incandescent lights, are forcing many museums to reevaluate how to light their collections. Thankfully LEDs can do a great job while saving energy and providing access to new and fantastic capabilities.

This webinar will demonstrate how light-emitting diodes (LEDs) emit light, describe methods for assessing the qualities of light and provide examples of how good lighting design can help provide a dynamic visitor experience while minimizing light’s harmful impact on collections. The talk will be richly illustrated with examples from exhibits at Smithsonian American Art Museums and include information that ranges from simple retrofits to advanced control systems.

The following topics will be covered:

  • Describe the similarities and differences between LED, incandescent and fluorescent light.
  • Discuss how to how to balance the display and preservation of art when using LED lighting.
  • Show how to access light and get started on choosing among different lighting systems.
  • Demonstrate how good light, and great collections, can create and inspire wonder.


portrait of scott rosenfeldScott Rosenfeld LC, IES Scott Rosenfeld LC, IES is the lighting designer at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. For over twenty years, Scott has worked on lighting art collections so they can be better seen, experienced, and preserved. The advent of energy-efficient LED lighting has led him to research new possibilities for manipulating the spectrum of light to enhance vision and slow the degradation of light-sensitive materials. He’s collaborated with the US Department of Energy to field test LED products in museum applications, with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to access the color rendering attributes of light, and with the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) to better quantify how light damages art collections. Scott is a Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society. As a the chair of their Museum Committee, he shepherded the work that led to the publication of the 2017 Recommended Practice for Museum Lighting.

The images in the slide above are (starting in upper left going clockwise): A painting by Paul Reed – #1D, the CIE 1931 chromaticity diagram, a painting by Alma Thomas – Atmospheric Effects I, a spectral power distribution graph of a fluorescent color proofing lamp and on the bottom the 99 reference color samples used in the IES Color Rendering Test Metric (TM30).

Recorded: Thursday, November 21, 2019
Duration: 1 Hour 27 Minutes


How to Change a Lightbulb PowerPoint Slides

How to Change A Lightbulb Checklist

How to Change a Lightbulb Handout


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