Lighting for Art Shows

By | 5:18 PM
Proper lighting is just as important as the artwork itself when presenting at an art show. Optimal lighting will draw attention to the artwork and make your display stand out.  Having adequate show lights is something commonly overlooked by first timers at art shows. This article covers lighting options and offers ideas on how to make the most of art show lighting.


Michael Mazzeo Gallery


Ambient lighting should not be ignored just because there will be some already at the venue.  Do not expect that what is provided will be adequate for display purposes no matter if it will be held inside or outside.  With that in mind, you should also not rely on using just one lamp; it is best to have several lights throughout your display area.  This will make a better impression and add dimension to your art show display.

Use accent lighting to enhance specific items and to draw interest to your display.  Flexible arm or clamp lights are good for creating spotlights on artwork. These may be purchased at reasonable cost from electronics, furniture, and large home or hardware supply stores. If you go to an art store to purchase lighting you will find that the prices are significantly higher.

Display lights come in different styles that can complement the individual artwork that is being illuminated. Using multiple separate bulbs does present the issue of the electrical power cord being in plain view and difficult to hide.  You may resort to using tape and fabric draping to address this issue. Alternatively, you may find battery-powered portable lights that are usually in the emergency preparedness section of an electronics store.  Fry's is one such example of where to find these.  Be mindful of the expected lifespan of the batteries and have replacements on hand.  Portable options which use batteries should also be considered with the following lighting possibilities.

LED lighting in hallway
Track lights have the feature of angling each lamp to direct light as needed. Such light fixtures are usually mounted on a ceiling.  However, you may be able to mount the track beside or below the art piece if you are not able to access the ceiling for mounting purposes. Track lighting is an excellent way to illuminate multiple artworks. Track lights are also inexpensive and come in many different sizes and with varying numbers of lights or bulbs.

Floor lights can be found in small portable canisters which cast light upwards. Place the floor light in a position that highlights the art and does not blind your guests from any angle. Most are inexpensive, but can prove to be obstructive if actually placed on the floor as opposed to on a slightly elevated platform.  If putting the light directly on the floor, you may want to position something in front of it in order to keep people from accidentally kicking or stepping on the lights. If you use this method be careful that you do not obstruct the light that is directed at the art.

The style of lighting and the angles you choose depends on your vision for your art display.  Try to avoid special effect lighting and motion sensor lights as this kind of lighting would distract or possibly annoy your guests.  Attention should not be on fancy lights.  The lights should only serve as a utility for bringing out the details in your artworks and making your display area warm and inviting. 

HK CWB HKCL art exhibition hall interior 03 visitors ceilling lighting
















© Rebecca H Knight, all images used are © their respective owners, All Rights Reserved
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