LED Illuminates Paintings in the Sistine Chapel

Historians assume Michelangelo mixed the paints of his vibrant Sistine Chapel frescoes under daylight. Under the HQI spotlights and halogen projectors originating from the 1980s, the six million annual visitors of the chapel couldn’t see the complete color spectrum of his classical masterpieces.

Using “a sophisticated correction algorithm” to integrate the human eye’s color perception with color temperatures into the spectral distribution of LED, lighting manufacturer Osram installed 7,000 LED lamps designed specifically for the chapel to fully illuminate the artist’s works.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 12.01.01 PM

“The LEDs have a color spectrum specifically designed with the pigmentation of the frescos in mind, to ensure the light faithfully reflects the original colors, as the artists intended,” says Marco Frascarolo of Fabertechnica, which also worked on the project.

“As each LED can be tuned to a different color,” he explained, “we spent long nights in the chapel with the Vatican Museum curators, trying out different mixes of red, blues, whites … trying to get it just right.”

While developing the lights, 276 areas of the Renaissance paintings were analyzed. Now visitors will get to see works like “The Creation of Adam” in their full glory. As an added bonus, the electrical power consumption of the chapel has been reduced from over 66 kilowatts to 7.5 kilowatts — so the Vatican will save a lot of money.

For more information about the project, read Osram’s report.

If LED lighting can bring out the best in Michelangelo, imagine what it can do for your business and workplace. Contact AIES today to learn more about the benefits of LED lighting.