The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has upgraded its lighting system using LED-based Zinnia fixtures supplied by Journée Lighting. The track fixtures are based on the Zhaga-compatible Infusion modular light engines manufactured by GE Lighting, and those modules will allow repair and/or upgrade of the light sources, future-proofing the installation.
LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) is proving an especially good match for many museum applications as the technology matures and the light sources can deliver consistent color temperature and high CRI. For example, we recently covered a major Philips LED museum project in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Likewise, Zumtobel supplied LED lighting for the Museum of the Cathedral located in Milan, Italy.
The MOCA project was different in that the museum is not a collecting institution, but one that features loaned artwork that changes frequently. The curators needed both high-quality lighting and flexibility in lighting configuration with tight beam control.
The track fixtures provide flexibility for the varying displays, allowing the MOCA to deliver varying light levels for different exhibits. "Our curators now have increased flexibility to meet the ever-changing needs of our art exhibits," said Kate Pittman, director of operations. "One month, we may need very low levels of light to softly illuminate paper artwork, and the next we are lighting 3-ton glass sculptures that require a lot of light."
The Zinnia fixtures were deployed in place of 75W PAR halogen lamps. The museum specified 2700K CCT Infusion modules with a CRI of 90. Moreover, the modules do not radiate in the ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) bands -- an important factor in the preservation of artwork.
The fixture design also tightly controls the beam so that the desired light is placed on the display at hand and not spilled to broader surfaces. The curators can now place an exhibit requiring a lot of light adjacent to one requiring low light levels. Spillage had prevented such presentations with the halogen lighting.
Repair and upgrade
The Zinnia design was also chosen in part because of the modular approach to the light source. The museum wanted the ability to replace the modules in the field for repair or upgrade. For example, the curators will have access to sources with greater luminous flux or even higher CRI as GE updates the module family.
The Infusion design features a twist and lock mechanism that is as easy to install as a common light bulb. The module form factor was the basis for the Zhaga Book Five specification for a socketable light engine that allowed replacement without tools. We published an article last year that explained the value proposition of modular LED light sources.
"We are seeing more and more museums adopt LED lighting systems," said Clayton Alexander, founder and CEO of Journée Lighting. "They are choosing GE Infusion-based track lights, such as our Zinnia fixture, because they offer a future-proof light source that's as easy to change as a standard light bulb."
Of course, energy usage came into the decision-making process as the MOCA considered an SSL transition. The museum ultimately purchased 450 track heads and regularly uses 300 of them at a time. The power consumption is based on CCT and lumen output of the module installed in the fixture. For example, a 970-lm, 3000K module consumes just less than 17W. So there is significant opportunity for the museum to reduce energy costs.
"For MOCA's purposes, the winning attribute of this product was the pairing of high-quality light and flexibility of the product to meet the ever-changing needs of temporary art exhibits," said Pittman. “MOCA's goal was to find energy-efficient lighting that looked like its outdated incandescent lighting counterpart. The average person cannot tell the difference, which was important to maintaining the aesthetics in our galleries. MOCA maintained its appearance and receives all the added benefits of energy-efficient lighting without the concern for harmful heat and high electrical bills."