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Lighting and Museum Exhibits

Innes, Malcolm


Malcolm Innes


Costas Papadopoulos

Holley Moyes


Museums exist to display and preserve valuable artefacts. Display lighting helps fulfil one of the main tenets of a museum, but excessive light causes irreparable damage to sensitive exhibits. Getting the balance between good display lighting and good conservation conditions is often difficult, but not impossible. Good exhibit lighting is not accidental. A considered process of design ideation and refinement is required to render exhibits to best effect. This thoughtful process is not explicit in the installation; nevertheless, by analysing methodologies that an experienced designer may consider as ‘intuitive’, the author establishes the critical design practices that underpin effective lighting for museum exhibits. The author explores factors that may impair viewing conditions and how the human physiological response to light can work against us in dimly lit galleries. However, considered use of light can reveal details of texture, shape and decoration that could easily be missed in low light conditions.


Innes, M. (2017). Lighting and Museum Exhibits. In C. Papadopoulos, & H. Moyes (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Light in Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2017
Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 24, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2021
Publisher Oxford University Press
Series Title Oxford Handbooks Online
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Light in Archaeology
Chapter Number XX
ISBN 9780198788218
Keywords conservation lighting, virtual restoration, digital projection, shadow, texture, depth, colour rendering, colour temperature, glare, reflections, disability glare, phototropism, raking light
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