Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art Boosts Aesthetics with Flexible LED Lighting

Art museums often serve dual purposes: to display works of art in a deserving and aesthetically pleasing fashion, and to preserve those works for future generations.

Preservation and maintaining aesthetics are two goals that pose unique challenges, and a flexible lighting system in a gallery environment is crucial to each. The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) recently took a big step in enhancing its commitment to both by installing Zinnia™ LED lighting fixtures by Journée Lighting, featuring GE’s Infusion™ LED Modules.

GE’s Infusion LED Modules and Journée lighting fixtures provide improved control to light artwork while saving on energy and maintenance costs. (Photo Courtesy of The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014.)

Throughout each of its galleries, MOCA now has greater flexibility and control of its lighting, offering a number of benefits for the artwork within.

“We are seeing more and more museums adopt LED lighting systems,” explained Clayton Alexander, founder and CEO of Journée Lighting. “They are choosing GE Infusion-based track lights, such as our Zinnia fixture, because they offer a future-proof light source that’s as easy to change as a standard light bulb.”

GE’s Infusion LED Modules and Journée lighting fixtures provide improved control to light artwork while saving on energy and maintenance costs. (Photo credit: The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014.)

Discover how flexible LED lighting solutions from GE and Journée Lighting give the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art better control to light their artwork while saving on energy and maintenance costs. (Photo Courtesy of The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014.)

A Delicate Lighting Balance

Placement of artwork is typically dependent on the lighting inside a museum, as different artworks require different levels of lighting—some dim, some bright, and everything in between. Light spillage from traditional lighting can inhibit the arrangement of the artwork—a piece requiring bright lighting could not be placed near a piece requiring dim lighting. But with the enhanced functionality and control options offered by LED lighting, that problem is easily overcome.

And galleries are far from static, especially for a non-collecting institution like MOCA. With no permanent displays, exhibits change frequently, and loaned artwork dictates the museum’s lighting needs, said Kate Pittman, MOCA’s director of operations.

“Our curators now have increased flexibility to meet the ever-changing needs of our art exhibits,” said Pittman. “One month, we may need very low levels of light to softly illuminate paper artwork, and the next we are lighting 3-ton glass sculptures that require a lot of light.”

GE’s Infusion™ LED Modules save energy while showcasing artwork in changing exhibits. (Photo Courtesy of The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014.)

Flexible LED Technology

MOCA replaced traditional 75-watt PAR halogen lamps with more than 450 new Zinnia LED luminaires outfitted with the Infusion LED Modules. The LED solution from GE Lighting offers a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 90; a 2700K color temperature; and a dramatic reduction in IR radiation and UV radiation, both of which are carefully monitored in museums due to their harmful effects on artwork.

With twist-fit installation, a common socket design and an extensive range of compatible luminaires, GE’s Infusion LED Modules offer a flexible solution for museum environments. The simple, removable modules allow MOCA to update its lighting without having to replace entire lighting fixtures—a major plus with the rapid rate at which LED technology evolves.

MOCA uses up to 300 lighting fixtures at a time in order to properly light its galleries. By switching to LED lighting, the museum will reap significant savings, Pittman said. The new system is expected to pay for itself within seven years, and will allow for a significant decrease in maintenance and upkeep.

“For MOCA’s purposes, the winning attribute of this product was the pairing of high-quality light and flexibility of the product to meet the ever-changing needs of temporary art exhibits,” Pittman said. “MOCA’s goal was to find energy-efficient lighting that looked like its outdated incandescent lighting counterpart. The average person cannot tell the difference, which was important to maintaining the aesthetics in our galleries. MOCA maintained its appearance and receives all the added benefits of energy-efficient lighting without the concern for harmful heat and high electrical bills.”

For more information about the GE Lighting products used in this project, visit www.gelighting.com/infusion.  

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