Nelson Atkins Museum of Art upgrades lighting with more than 2,000 Osram Sylvania LED lamps

Sept. 9, 2015
The Situation

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, located in Kansas City, Missouri, provides free admission to visitors to enjoy, appreciate and understand the finest visual arts and varied cultures represented on its campus and online. Recognized nationally and internationally, the museum’s renowned collection has more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries.

When considering upgrading its halogen lamps to LEDs to save energy, the museum wanted to ensure that any new light maintained a true rendering of the art, and as the mediums were illuminated, the artists’ message or creation were not dulled. As the Lighting Designer for the Nelson-Atkins, Clint Paugh had a thorough testing process that lasted more than eight months and started with more than 15 lighting manufacturers that were narrowed down based on performance criteria.

“Part of our mission at the Nelson-Atkins is to nurture excellence, inspire creativity and build community through the power of art. Light plays a vital role in fulfilling those goals. Changing our lighting didn’t just involve changing out light bulbs; it was a project that impacted the museum to its core. As a result, it needed to be handled with extreme diligence,” said Paugh. “While saving energy and money is important, it couldn’t come at the expense of the high quality of our museum experience. Any new lighting had to create an environment that showcased the exhibits we are very proud to share with our community.”

To test the various lighting products, a mockup room was outfitted with different materials, color schemes, height and fixture positioning. After eliminating products that did not meet Paugh’s approval, the final two manufacturers were tested using employee feedback and another unique process to engage museum attendees. Paugh created lighting kiosks using the finalists’ lighting solutions and placed them within the museum. The kiosks illuminated different mediums and allowed for attendee feedback in the form of voting and donations. In the end, OSRAM SYLVANIA was selected as the best choice.

The Solution

Award-winning SYLVANIA ULTRA PRO HD™ PAR38 LED lamps from OSRAM SYLVANIA were selected for illuminating the Nelson-Atkins because of the products’ superior beam characteristics compared to other LED lamps and the fact that the high quality light maintained the look of the previous halogen lamps. In addition, the lamps were chosen because of their high color rendering index and long-life and energy saving benefits. The 17 and 18-watt LED lamps replaced 45 and 90-watt halogen lamps, delivering up to 81 percent energy savings. As with halogen, the high center beam candlepower of the LED lamps puts the focus on the important artwork at the museum, such as the rich tapestries and gripping photographs, and the soft spill further enhances the displays. The new LED lamps deliver HD performance with a 92+ color rendering index for color critical applications with exceptionally rich deep red content (R9>50), perfect for the accentuating the museum’s exhibits. They have a long 25,000 hours rated life (L70) with a design life of 50,000 hours, lasting more than 33 times longer than incandescent solutions which translate into lower maintenance costs. In addition, these high power factor LED lamps have a sleek lightweight design and are dimmable down to 5 percent.

The product portfolio was also ideal because its broad assortment of beam angle options, such as spot (12°), wide spot (15°), narrow flood (25°) and flood (40°), met the various lighting needs across the two buildings and 50 galleries. These LED solutions were also chosen because the lamps produce virtually no UV or infrared radiation that can damage or fade museum furnishings, art and other objects. These lighting solutions from OSRAM SYLVANIA have a five-year warranty, are free of mercury and lead, and are compliant with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

The Bottom Line

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is now enjoying beautiful long-life light and annual energy cost savings of $13,697, thanks to the LED technology from OSRAM SYLVANIA. As a result of the LED lighting upgrade, the museum is saving approximately 192,960 kWh annually, resulting in 408,525 pounds of CO2 emissions also reduced each year.

“The new LED light from OSRAM SYLVANIA is gorgeous,” said Paugh. “We definitely went through an extensive process, but the end result was completely worth it and I am very proud of the outcome. OSRAM SYLVANIA’s LED lamps deliver an excellent quality of light that highlight the beauty and nuances of the masterpieces in our museum. The fact that our employees and attendees were a part of the selection process makes me happy because the museum is for the community and they should be a part in ensuring it is the best it can be.”