Lighting has played an important part in Historic Royal Palace’s £2.5 million refurbishment of the Jewel House at the Tower of London, helping to re-present its authentic and priceless collection to more than 2.5 million visitors a year, in an environmentally-friendly way. 

The Jewel House has been re-lit by a team led my Mark Sutton Vane to give visitors an exciting visual experience by highlighting individual objects to generate spectacular, multicoloured reflections and sparkle. Carefully re-engineering and remodelling some of the existing lighting and adding new elements makes the collection easier to see, eliminates glare and makes graphics easier to read. The decision was taken to follow the more sustainable option of upgrading the existing fibre optic systems and the lanterns installed 18 years previously to improve their light output and efficiency. 

The technical challenge was lighting the glittering objects within glass cases so accurately and discretely that they can be viewed clearly from a range of angles. The original lighting scheme for the cases relied almost entirely on lighting from above. This tended to cast shadows over some of the most precious items and reduced their visual impact. 

The new scheme is designed to reveal objects in all their glory and to help tell their remarkable story. Mark explained: “The most important objects are individually lit to make them stand out. The fibre optic lighting within display cases has been given specially designed, narrow-beam fittings which are meticulously aligned to pinpoint specific objects.” 

The lighting scheme was specially designed so that it could be installed a little each night and yet still give good lighting the next day for the visitors. Sutton Vane Associates worked with museum designer Ralph Appelbaum and Associates and HRP on the project, which has been shortlisted for a 2012 Lux Award.
Historic Royal Palaces 
Ralph Appelbaum Associates