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Natural light problem of museum

Author:Bill Wu    Issuing time:2015-09-02

         Natural light is a very high-quality and efficient light source, with respect to artificial light, it can bring a more comfortable visual and psychological feeling, but for the lighting design for the museum it is a very sensitive topic, because its introduction has a very obvious disadvantages, such as its illumination may vary over time and seasons, with a strong permanent UV that not conducive to the permanent exhibits protection. 

Authenticity and artistic needs natural light to represent

         The main problem of Museum lighting design is: Protect the exhibits form radiation damage as little and show its authenticity and artistic during the show.


Fig1:Monet masterpiece "Water Lilies" donut hall in paris Musee de l'Orangerie

        There is no lamps in the hall, the light used is irradiate from the top of building and then been optical design, the aim is to let the audience experience waxes and wanes when appreciate Monet painting


Fig2:The exhibition hall of Louvre museum that entirely use natural light 


Fig3:Juanqin vegetarian of Forbidden City


Fig4:Natural light museum lounge 

Why Museums rarely use natural light for illumination?


    Fig5:Natural light Illumination

         Firstly, radiation components of natural light is complex.

         Secondly, illuminance of natural light fluctuations too lmuch, it can reach 100,000lux on the noon,, while on the evening or on cloudy days, may be as low as tens of Lux.

      Thus, if the museum want to take advantage of natural light, it must increase the number of configuration,like illuminance reducing device……

Precautions of natural light applied in museum

         Display area are relics exhibition area, which have high requirements of light. If you want to take advantage of natural light, you must handle the following questions:

         1 Changes of illuminance

Table:Illumination table

Sunrise and Sunsets


Half an hour before Sunrise and Sunsets


9:00 to 15:00 later 


Average Illuminance


The direct light at summer noon


The direct light at autumn noon


  Cloudy day sky light


Soupy weather sky light


Thin cloud sky light



         2 Components of natural light

         3 Integration of color temperature

         4 Glare control


Fig6:The British Museum 


Fig7:Suzhou Museum

          After the previous analysis, we can find out what kind of light museum need:

          Illumination and people comfortable light

          Soft and clean light

          Vivid and pure light