Room setting with multiple pieces of art correctly illuminated.

Tips for Lighting Your Artwork

What’s the point of hanging great art in your home if you can’t actually see it? Glare, shadows, and uneven lighting all affect how a picture is viewed. Proper lighting enhances the effect of your art in the room, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to lighting your art.  Selecting one of our types of UV-protective glazing will help minimize the negative effects of light upon your artwork and our Museum Glass® dramatically reduces reflections.  But there are still a few things to keep in mind.

Avoid Direct Light: When placing art, it’s best on a wall that doesn’t get direct natural light. Indirect light is okay, but avoid direct light. Over time, UV rays can age and fade your art. North-facing walls will have consistent, softer lighting for most of the day, east-facing will have morning light, south-facing will have afternoon light (the strongest and hottest) and west-facing will receive evening light.

Ambient Light: Position the artwork beside or above a console or side table where an existing light can provide added depth and ambiance to the framed art. Move a floor lamp or table lamp so that it sheds light not only on the framed art, but also on the space around it.

Ceiling-Mounted Accent Lights: Pin spotlights that direct light onto individual artworks are a great way of highlighting them. The ceiling fixtures can be recessed or surface-mounted, and allow the direction of light to be adjusted. They can also be specified with a range of light-beam spreads, so you can ensure that the light covers most of the artwork.

Track Lights: Track-lighting systems have come a long way, and many now have a much cleaner, more minimalist look than the tracks of decades past. Equipped with the right lamps, they perform largely the same as ceiling-mounted accent lights but provide a few more advantages; they’re easier to install and offer future flexibility.

Wall Washers: Wall washing is a technique that doesn’t require light to hit every piece of art in a room. Instead you “wash a wall” with light. Wall washing provides a wide distribution of light across an entire wall and comes in many forms. You can use recessed, surface-mounted, and track lighting that can be installed on ceilings, walls, or even floors.

Picture Lights: Typically picture lights are mounted on the wall or the frames of individual artworks. It positions the light source close to the work of art with very low-wattage lamps. It offers a sense of intimacy with a piece of art, and invites you to come over for a closer look.  LED varieties are available as are remote-controlled and battery-operated versions.

What kind of bulbs should I use?

LED lights are your best choice because they do not give off heat or emit damaging ultraviolet or infrared light.  They’re also long-lasting and energy efficient.  Fluorescent lights should be avoided because they don’t flatter the colors in artwork and they emit a lot of UV rays that can cause artwork to fade.

Generally speaking, the light source should be at a 30 degree angle to the art to minimize glare.  Be careful not to position lights too closely; if you place your hand in front of the artwork and can feel heat from the light source, your art is at risk of being damaged.

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