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Paul James / Pete Brewis - Editorial Comment

August / September 2011

An introduction to the latest issue from the editor Paul James and deputy editor Pete Brewis ...


Paul James, editor, writes:
So this is the module world...? If so there may be trouble ahead. Whilst the four modules that made it into our benchtest (see page 95) performed admirably, a further three (who are conspicuous by their absence in the article) failed to meet the criteria needed to participate. It wasn’t that they didn’t perform well enough. They simply sent the wrong modules in terms of lumen rating and/or CCT and, not only that, they were wrongly sent on more than one occasion! Whether this was down to error or an unwillingness to take part is unclear. I’d like to think it was error but, if so, this is a worrying development. If there are mistakes made submitting one module for a benchtest, can we really be sure that every single module of every single order is being correctly shipped? Whether you believe that LED modules are a long term solution or a quick fix while manufacturers research the integration of LEDs into their fittings, there is still clearly a lot of work to be done by the Zharga Consortium to ensure that there is none of the ‘black magic’ that has surrounded the LED market in years gone by. And standarisation would be nice too! The variety of module demonstrates that the module market is still embryonic and companies are still investigating what methods and technologies will provide the best overall performance, production yield and costs.
That said, the four modules that participated in our benchtest prove that the LED module market has come a long way since they first came onto the scene. All exceeded the magical 65 lm/W figure (OK, no secondary optics - we wanted raw data for better comparison) considering the Colour Rendering Index figures were good and the R9 ratings were, in the most part, good too. The LED modules achieve the efficacy performance in a variety of different methods, whether it is using integrated or external ballasts, standard or remote phosphor LEDs and even combinations of different coloured LEDs as used in the entertainment industry. The fact that the museum industry - from the smallest regional outfit to the National Gallery in London - appears to be beginning to welcome the LED phenomenon is testimony to the quality of the light that is now available and what the future will hold...

Pete Brewis, deputy editor, writes: Today, perhaps more than ever, the museum visitor experience is as much about the building and its location as it is about the exhibits housed within. With architects called upon to create iconic, landmark identities, the structure itself has become one of the exhibits, often drawing on its surroundings to create a unique sense of place. Connecting with the outside world - be it visually, as with Zaha Hadid Architects’ use of large glazed walls at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum, or by filtering in natural daylight, as David Chipperfield has achieved at Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield – can create some stunning effects, but it also comes with a whole set of complicated issues to solve. How much daylight can be safely admitted into the gallery? How can it be best blended with artificial light? This is where the lighting designer becomes an indispensible part of the design team, helping deliver all the above while at the same time remaining mindful of the conservation needs of the pieces on display. Kit Cuttle - a bit of an expert in this area – returns to this issue to outline some of the restrictions and regulations involved and offer some examples of successful gallery lighting techniques. Lighting in galleries will always be a compromise between producing the most truthful colour rendering and causing the minimum of damage. With their well documented UV and IR benefits, LEDs have long excelled on the issue of conservation, but until recently their reliability and light quality were considered too poor to be unleashed on valuable artworks. Cautiously, however, galleries are beginning to take the plunge. Two London institutions, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery have slowly been adopting LED fixtures and, as the editor discovers in our special Panel Discussion, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. There are still some concerns over LEDs, in particular the slight spike in the blue spectrum. Visually this actually seems to offer a pleasing new aesthetic for galleries, albeit one with uncertain long-term conservation implications. Kevan Shaw is among those who remain unconvinced. He argues the case against the LED takeover with a reminder of the merits of LVTH. As LEDs become firmly established in all areas of lighting and the twin pressures of energy conservation and financial constraints come to bare on public galleries – it seems this debate is set to become ever more relevant.



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