Let there be light!

23 07 2013

Let there be light!

Think of the Whitworth Art Gallery, and you may think of darkened galleries with low lighting – and for good reason, as the Gallery’s collections are primarily made up of light sensitive works of art on paper and textiles, and part of our remit is to preserve our collections so that future generations can enjoy them as we do. There are occasions when we deliberately make some of our spaces even darker – think of Gregor Schneider’s ‘Kinderzimmer’ in 2009 or the ‘Dark Matters’ exhibition in 2011 – and when we show film or video installations. Equally, there are times when we would welcome the ability to open up more of our gallery spaces to daylight and especially to combine this openness with views of our adjacent park.

Our Design Team have gone to great lengths to provide a flexible system of glazing, louvres, blinds, and brise soleil that will enable us to bring daylight in to more spaces, while still protecting our collections. Specialist lighting consultants have modelled year-round lighting conditions and tracked sunlight which will help curators and conservators plan exhibition layouts.

New skylights are currently being installed into the roof of our exhibition galleries, and as the photograph shows, 96 sheets of specialist glass are all ready and waiting. Sensors in the galleries will respond to changing external daylight so that even, internal lighting conditions can be maintained, while the use of free daylight will reduce both our energy consumption and costs.

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