UQ Art Museum lights up

25 May 2016

The University of Queensland Art Museum is showing its impressive collection in a whole new light—literally. Thanks to extensive retrofitting carried out by the Energy team in partnership with the museum during 2015–16, the building has had every single light replaced—an upgrade that’s saving 115 kWh per year, which equals over 100 kilos of carbon dioxide emissions.  

The retrofit involved replacing 780 lights, from halogen downlights in general museum spaces to spotlights and wall washers used to illuminate artwork. The museum’s valuable pieces—which include contemporary and historic works by Australian and international artists and a collection of Chinese antiquities—are now able to be displayed in better light.

Art Museum Production Manager Brent Wilson explains that the new LED fittings offer a more even light than their halogen predecessors, which were subject to frequent ‘hot spots’ that reduced their lifespan and light quality. “The LED fittings produce a more ‘neutral’ light, rather than the warm yellow hue of halogen bulbs,” explains Mr Wilson. This change affects how visitors perceive colour in artwork—increased neutral tones stop blues from appearing green, for example.  

“The Art Museum’s collection is one of the more significant in the state, so the new lighting allows us to really showcase our pieces while improving our amenity value and lowering our maintenance costs,” says Mr Wilson. The cost of maintaining the new lights will drop by thousands of dollars each year, as they’re 20 times more efficient than the halogen bulbs that preceded them.

The upgrade represents significant energy savings for the University—due to the specific lighting and temperature requirements of a building that houses valuable works of art, the museum is the most light- and energy-intensive space on campus.

Further upgrades are in the pipeline, with plans in place to install a more energy-efficient air-conditioning system in the coming months.

UQ was one of the first universities in Queensland to acquire works of art, and the Art Museum is one of the largest galleries in the state—its collection now totals over 3,500 pieces.