New light for the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel in Rome is recognized as the most important chapel in the world, and accommodates perhaps the most extraordinary frescoes ever created by human hands.
Five and a half million visitors crowd into the chapel each year to see Michelangelo‘s works, but they witness only a few in full glory because a lighting level approximating twilight is usually experienced.
From 2014, the 450th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo, LED light will be illuminating the artist’s masterpiece “The Creation of Adam” as well as other works accommodated by the chapel, and art lovers visiting the interior of the Sistine Chapel will then be able to experience the art in a completely new diversity of color. Lighting experts from the company of OSRAM developed a sophisticated LED lighting concept that increases illuminance by five to ten times, elevating the colors from the semi-darkness of twilight and illuminating the complete color spectrum of the frescoes in highly homogeneous and optimally controlled light.
The technical basis of the project is an LED luminaire featuring red, green, blue as well as warm white and cool white LED light. The five color channels of the luminaire can be independently controlled to allow fine adjustment of the color temperature between 3,000 and 4,000 Kelvin in accordance with changing works of art in the Chapel. Simultaneously, control options inherent with LED technology are exploited to the full, and the aim was to achieve an impression of color that more closely justifies the high component of saturated colors in the frescoes. In addition, ultraviolet and infrared radiation components are almost completely absent from the LED spectrum, which is why in the future the LED luminaires can be installed at a height of around ten meters, concealed on a narrow ledge in the interior of the chapel, and no longer have to be banished to the outside.
Despite significantly higher illuminance values and maximum light quality, the LED installation achieves top values in terms of electricity overheads, electrical power consumption of the chapel including gala and visitor lighting being reduced from over 66 kilowatts down to 7.5 kilowatts.
The lighting of the Sistine Chapel was implemented within the framework of LED4Art, a pilot project supported by the European Funding Program for Information and Communication Technology within the Framework Program for Competitiveness and Innovation (PSP-CIP). The aim of the subsidy program is to demonstrate new possibilities for LED technology with regard to energy efficiency and improved quality of light, and thus to achieve more rapid market penetration for the new technology.