How To Light An Art Gallery

January 31, 2018 3 min read

How To Light An Art Gallery

Art and paint galleries are wonderful places and art is a marvellous thing to bear witness too. However all too often art and its appeal is damaged by poor lighting. Whether it is a lack of lighting that sink the art into a deep darkness or lights causing long stretching shadows or glare it is always a shame when lights take away from the wonder of a masterpiece. Here at Gwyn Carless At The Light Yard we have a in depth understanding of lighting and a great appreciation of art which is why we have created a guide to lighting an art gallery to make sure your lighting does your artwork justice.


Here we are going to look at the 4 most commonly used lighting techniques:

Picture lights

Mounted on the wall or frames of individual pieces and typically using a low wattage lamp, picture lights bring the light close to the painting. This close lighting creates a sense of intimacy and beckons people closer to the picture to view it more closely. Furthermore, picture lights are decorative pieces which are pieces of art in their own right. Picture lights add to the feel and look of the room as a whole by enhancing its overall artistic appeal. Picture lights are also one of the most traditional ways to highlight your favourite paintings in the home.

Ceiling mounted accent lights

One of the most ideal ways to illuminate artwork is to use spotlights that direct their light on to the work. Ceiling mounted accent lights can be surfaced mounted or recessed as they allow the direction of the light to be adjusted. As a general rule the lights should be positioned so that they hit the centre of the artwork when at an angle of 30 degrees. If the angle is too far below this then the lights are too close to the piece of art and will cast long unwanted shadows over the art. If the lights are angled too much over 30 degrees and the light is pointed too directly you will suffer a glare on the painting.

Track lights

Track lights are an incredible way to light an art gallery. With track lighting, you have a few options you can have mounted lights or for higher ceilings you can bring the light down to a more convenient level by using pendant lights. Track lighting can meet an array of criteria including a minimalist look that offers a more crisp and cleaner lit gallery and track lighting can be easily adjusted to accommodate changes to the galleries art whether that may be a new piece, the removal of a piece or a piece of artwork being moved to a new location.

Wall washers
Image courtesy of Pure (product - reveal wall wash)

Wall washers offer a wide distribution of light and can be found as ceiling lights, wall lights and floor lights. Many contemporary collectors prefer the technique of using wall washers to create well-lit walls with art on them rather than walls with well-lit art on them. It is a more casual and popular way of lighting art that offers flexibility when moving art in the gallery in future.

Whilst these lighting techniques are best served in art galleries they can also be use to achieve fantastically lit art work at home as well as simply offering amazing lighting regardless of the artwork.

Questions? To speak with us about lighting for your home or commercial project, call +44 (0)330 223 3940. Or email

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Useful links:

Walker Art Gallery - Liverpool

Tate Liverpool