The niche of lighting solutions for “Art & Museum” represents a relatively small part of the nearly US$ 100 billion lighting fixtures market, at world level; still, it is a very prestigious one. According to CSIL estimates, the indoor market for “Art & Museum” lighting is worth at least half billion US dollar worldwide, of which almost US$ 400 million when considering only LED solutions. This market can be geographically broken down in 40 per cent Asia, 40 per cent Europe (including North Africa and Middle East), and 20 per cent in America. In addition, several hundred million US dollars should be added when considering also the specific niche of architectural (outdoor) lighting for heritage buildings and monument lighting.
Museums and galleries consume significant amounts of energy to maintain an internal environment that protect and preserve their collections. In addition, light in museums and galleries are not only limited to the display of art, as they range from the exhibition and sculpture garden to the shop and café. The use of lighting within both exhibition and back of house areas can account for 20 per cent of this energy consumption, according to Arup estimation. The new possibilities of high-quality LED lighting allow to optimise the operations, without having to compromise in terms of visual experience and the conservation of art. Therefore, as a minimal criterion, a good solution should reduce maintenance and operational costs with the long-life LED lighting, allowing maximum flexibility for temporary exhibits and last-minute lighting adjustments. Additionally, it should preserve the authenticity of the artwork with LED lighting that keeps colours true (with Colour Rendering Index – CRI – higher than 90, typically 96 or 98), attract and guide visitors with light-driven visual contrasts that showcase the smallest details and evoke emotions. Last but not least, lighting solutions developed for art pieces should protect them with LED lighting that emits no harmful UV or IR rays, meeting the international criteria for art conservation with uniform LED light.
A few lighting manufacturers can comply with such requirements. A not exhaustive list of relevant players in the “Art & Museums” LED lighting niche includes: Philips, Osram, Erco, Inesa Feilo, iGuzzini, Lumenpulse, Shenghui, FSL, Targetti, Acuity, Martini and Bega. Frequently, companies that specialise in indoor “Art & Museum” lighting also operates in the high-end segment of the Retail business such as Exenia, Martini, Fagerhult, Viabizzuno, Luxiona and Linea Light. Philips and Bega are more active in the outdoor segment, while Erco and iGuzzini are the leaders for indoor solutions, even if they play a relevant role also outdoor business.
Around 20,000 museums are in operation in Europe and the average spending for new lighting every five to 10 years is estimated to be worth around € 50,000. Europe is home to 17 of the largest museums in the world. Seven of them are located in London, three in Paris and in Madrid, two in Barcelona, and one each in Rome and Florence. Such an environment has created the perfect space for many European companies to specialise in this niche of the market; among them, Erco and iGuzzini stand out.
In Europe, Erco has provided its lighting solutions to the top cultural institutions, including the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan (Italy), the Archaeological Museum in Madrid (Spain), the Galleria degli Uffizi Museum in Florence (Italy), the National Gallery in London (UK), the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), just to mention some of the most prestigious ones. In the recent years, Erco has developed the new Compar range of recessed luminaires with a striking linear design that delivers light distributions previously restricted to round or square ceiling apertures. As a result, Compar adds to the design options in typical recessed lighting applications such as foyers, circulation areas or conference rooms in museums, administration buildings, restaurants or galleries whilst also meeting every ergonomic requirement for perfectly efficient lighting solutions in the office environment. Dali options are available for many luminaires, for example for the Stella projectors.
Among the recent products developed by iGuzzini for Art and Museum applications, there are: Laser Blade xs (extra small wall washer) in the field of indirect lighting, “Walky” (that received a German award for outdoor wall-mounted), “Palco InOut” (outdoor projector), “Palco low voltage” (miniaturised projector), “The Blade” (awarded from the German Design Council). With its Laser Blade series, iGuzzini has shown how daft miniaturisation of lighting can get: its Laser Blade XS encapsulated optical mastery and innovative knowhow in just 18 mm. iGuzzini has developed lighting solution for very prestigious projects such as The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (Italy) and the Royal Academy in London (UK). Among its latest projects, it worth mentioning the just inaugurated lighting system for the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Italy), which iGuzzini has developed in partnership with WiSense, an innovative start-up founded in 2014 as a spin-off of the Polytechnic University of Marche. The new IoT lighting system includes integrated LED luminaires, environment sensors and sophisticated internet-protocol software. In an initial phase, sensors designed specifically for the 14th century Italian church housing the frescoes will measure the variations in natural light. The data will then be processed in the cloud using a bespoke algorithm to adapt the artificial lighting at the Scrovegni Chapel to any changes in environmental conditions. The asymmetrical distribution of the six windows on the southern facade of the chapel produces an uneven distribution of daylight, as the windowed wall enjoys less natural light than the one opposite it. This creates constant changes in the environment’s visual balance and a counter light effect that troubles visitors. Thanks to the new system, the light variations will be detected and transmitted to the control system that will adjust the luminaires accordingly.
Other relevant European companies active in this segment are the Italian lighting manufacturers Targetti and Disano. In 2015, Targetti has introduced the “Lights of Florence” system for enlightening Art & Museums, historical buildings and religious spaces. In the last few years, Disano has worked on the illumination of the Bamburgh Castle, in Northumberland (UK); it provided lighting solutions for the big statue on top of the Sanctuary della Madonna della Guardia (Our Lady of the Guard) in Tortona (Italy) and the Church of Santa Maria di Caravaggio (Our Lady from Caravaggio), which occupies a large space near Porta Ticinese, one of the most important medieval city gates in Milan (Italy). The church’s lighting system was recently renovated with new spotlights, LED sources and control systems that allow pre-programmed switching times.
The USA & Emerging Markets
On the other hand, nowadays the US is the largest art market worldwide, accounting for 42 per cent of the art sales by value, with China in second place (21 per cent), according to the The Art Market | 2018 (released by UBS and Art Basel). Although exhibitions are much more globally dispersed than sales in the art market, the US dominate also this segment, accounting for a 21 per cent share. Its share is almost twice that of Germany (12 per cent) and France (10 per cent), at the second and third position respectively.
Such a supremacy allows many US manufacturers to specialise in the “Art and Museum” niche of the lighting market. Two interesting companies in this field are Litelab and Edison Price Lighting. Litelab has over 30 years of experience in the United States. Their luminaire collections provide a full range of architectural lighting solutions from the simplest to the most complex lighting challenges. The Arts and Museum market accounts for 45 per cent of the company revenues. Its portfolio includes the Museum of Modern Art (New York), North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh) and Grand Rapids Museum of Art (Grand Rapids). Edison Price Lighting has designed and manufactured high-quality architectural lighting fixtures since 1952. They have lit over 400 museums and galleries, as well as offices, residences, academic buildings, and more. They are represented in North America by over 60 manufacturer’s representatives with a total of 100 branch offices. Their projects include the refurbishment of the lighting fixtures for the United Nations and lighting the new 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Considering emerging markets, combined with China and India, the Asian region accounted for 32 per cent of world wealth in 2017 and wealth in the region in absolute terms has increased 48 per cent in 10 years and by over 160 per cent since 2000. The rapid growth in wealth, particularly at the high-end, has fuelled stronger buying in the global art market as well as vibrant local art scenes throughout Asia. As wealth in Asia has grown, demand for art, as a luxury good or cultural commodity, has increased. This demand has been met through local sales of art as well as purchases abroad by Asian collectors in already established markets such as London and New York. Further evidence of how these wealth dynamics have affected the market is that Asia has become a significant importer of art (accounting for 17 per cent of total global imports of art), with Hong Kong accounting for over 50 per cent of the imports of art to Asia and 8 per cent of world imports of art and antiques. As result, many Chinese manufacturer of lighting fixtures, such as Inesa Feilo, Shenghui and FSL, are now getting more and more interest in the Art & Museum lighting business.