Sutton Vane Associates lighting designers have been testing out daylight and artificial lighting scenarios for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries. 

The seven galleries covering the Enlightenment period are being remodelled by architect ZMMA and will reopen with lighting designed by Sutton Vane Associates in 2015. They are the V&A’s prominent Galleries one to seven situated at basement level on the Cromwell and Exhibition roads. The redesign will strip away cladding installed in the 1970s to reveal the original Aston Webb architecture and will reinstate the windows that run around the outside of the galleries, allowing natural light to enter. The two practices are working closely to ensure that carefully controlling daylight will make displays visible while conserving delicate artefacts. Some 1,000 objects will go on display. 

Daylight testing uses advanced light simulator

The lighting tests used the Bartlett’s Sky Dome lighting simulator at the University of London, the most advanced facility of its kind in the UK. A team headed by Mark Sutton Vane and Robert Jones carried out the tests on models of the galleries under Sky Dome, a 5.2m diameter geodesic hemisphere equipped with 270 individually controlled compact fluorescent light sources and diffusers to model different sky conditions. An artificial sun traverses the ‘sky’ replicating every possible combination of diffuse and direct light.
Sutton Vane Associates is also lighting an exhibition to reopen Gallery 40, the V&A’s recently renovated home of its fashion collection. Aston Webb also designed Gallery 40, originally.