How to Light

How to Light: Can I use LED to light an art gallery?

There are now many that could potentially light a gallery or exhibition space. Pictured: The National Gallery

The easy answer is yes. With the advances in LED technology there are many LED light sources on the market that could potentially light a gallery or exhibition space.

But, before splashing out your cash, you need to find out not only that the LED you have in mind is bright enough and has an appropriate optical performance but, more importantly, the colour performance of the LED. What is its colour temperature and does it have a high CRI rating of Ra 90+ (colour rendering index)?

Many galleries are still lit with a wide range of traditional, high energy, tungsten halogen light sources because they offer an almost maximum colour rendering of Ra 100. If the LED on offer has a CRI of between 85 and 90 it can be described as having ‘good colour rendering’.

90 and above is ‘excellent colour rendering’ and that is where you need to be to get your art work to look at its best.

The Whitechapel Gallery in London shows much more recent art than the National Gallery, but the challenge of lighting art work remains the same.

As an example, at High Technology Lighting, we incorporate the industry’s best LED light source into our product offer, in the form of the Xicato Artist Series. With the Artist Series, the LED and phosphor specification are both carefully controlled, achieving a CRI of Ra over 95, compared to a CRI of Ra above 80 with the standard range.

Typically the colour rendering index evaluates only the first 8 pastel reference samples of the conventional CRI metric. High CRI LEDs are optimised to deliver excellent results for the more saturated and skin colour samples of the CRI reference set.

A deep red ‘R9’ reference sample has become the focus of LED development, and a value of 96 has been achieved in the 2700K, 3000K and 3500K Artist Series, with a value in excess of 85 in the 4000K Artist Series.

These kind of results are on a par with halogen lamps, outperforming standard LED offerings as well as other low energy sources, such as compact fluorescent and compact metal halide lamps. This question is answered by Thomas Holgeth, joint managing director of High Technology Lighting.



  • The re-lighting of the Royal Academy of Arts will be one of the projects discussed at the Lighting for Museums & Galleries conference at this years LuxLive 2018. The exhibition is Europe’s largest annual lighting event taking place on 14th & 15th November at the ExCeL London. Featuring eight conference tracks and over 100 expert industry speakers. Entry is FREE – simply register to attend HERE