Museum shines warm LED lights on antiquities

A museum in Glasgow is able to display sensitive antique objects for the first time by using purpose-built LED lighting modules.

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The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Scotland has just celebrated its 200th year, and to mark the occasion a complete redisplay has been undertaken by the in-house technical team.

As part of the lighting scheme, around 330 LED lighting modules were installed, enabling certain delicate and ancient objects to be illuminated for the first time.

Dave Russ, an engineer working for the museum, explains that the warm-white LEDs allowed the replacement of many halogen light sources resulting in minimal maintenance costs and a vastly reduced energy budget.

"Most importantly, due to the low heat output and zero UV emission from the LEDs, we are able to illuminate sensitive parts of the collection in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner," says Russ. "The result is a stunning display of many objects that have not been presented to the public before."

The LED lights are based around Lamina 8-watt warm white Atlas light engines coupled with secondary optics from Khatod. The emitters are bonded to a bespoke aluminium block and channel that acts as a heat sink and as a structural part of the display case.

Buckpuck drivers from Luxdrive provde a constant current source of 700 mA, and coupled with Microchip PIC12F683 microcontroller provide a PWM signal that allows the complete system to be gradually dimmed when the area is unoccupied.

The museum is divided into zones, each with sensors, so that when a visitor leaves the zone the lights are dimmed after a few minutes. This reduces the energy consumption and also the exposure to light of sensitive objects.

Russ says it was not possible to acquire LEDs from the same bins, due to the small scale of the project. However, the LEDs were sorted so that each display case used devices from the same bin.

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