Close collaboration between the lighting designer, architect, curators and showcase fabricators at the newly restored Treasury Gallery at the National Museum of Ireland has ensured that the historic building and the country’s most precious artefacts are seen in the best possible light.
Sutton Vane Associates worked with the architect, curators and showcase fabricators in Germany to design display cases especially for individual artefacts and to locate them in sympathy with architectural features including a mosaic floor, Majolica fireplaces and carved wooden doors.
Scheme improves aesthetics, visibility and conservation
Ugly, energy-hungry lighting using a grid of MR16 downlights and wall mounted spots, which made displays hard to see, has been replaced by a scheme that integrates the lighting into custom-built display cases and the fabric of the building to enhance both. LED, fibreoptic and low-energy compact fluorescent lighting has been used to make artefacts easier to view while also improving conservation and reducing maintenance.
The displays use fibre-optic lighting. The projectors are in a basement, which eradicates heat and noise problems and improves conservation. Custom-built, 4m-tall showcases show the details of the undersides of exhibits using mirrors and carefully placed downlighting.
Lighting levels vary between galleries
In the first gallery, which houses mainly metal artefacts and is lit at 200 lux, dimmable compact fluorescent uplights and LED spotlights have replaced wall-mounted bulkheads. Slim light panels in the wall recesses combine LEDs to and prismatic panels to create an even light.
The design team worked together to manage the transition to a second gallery lit at 50 lux which houses the 1,200 year-old Faddan More Psalter in a specially built case lit by fibre optics. Elsewhere, track and LED spot fittings in a third space allow flexible lighting of temporary exhibits.