The feeling is very similar to when you are contemplating a newly restored painting. It is as though all impurities have been removed, and the artwork has recovered its original splendor. In some cases, it may even seem excessively bright. This is all thanks to the Prado Museum’s decision to change its halogen lamps for LEDs.
This explanation comes toward the end of the presentation of an ambitious new project named Iluminando el Prado (or, Lighting up the Prado), funded by the Iberdrola Foundation at a cost of somewhere between €800,000 and €1 million.
For a while, the museum will combine the two kinds of lights – halogen and LEDs – on specific paintings so visitors can see the difference for themselves.
“With halogen lights, backgrounds lose their definition; now works can be appreciated much better. Also, halogen lights needed to be set on low intensity to avoid damaging the paintings, which resulted in a yellowish hue. With the new lighting, the colors are more powerful, more clear,” adds Miguel Falomir, who will replace Gabriele Finaldi as co-director of conservation and research on June 1.
The move also seeks to comply with a EU directive that is phasing out high-energy lighting systems across Europe. Marina Chichilla, the co-director at the Prado, and Carmen Recio, head of the culture department at the Iberdrola Foundation, underscored that the LEDs will reduce damage to the artwork by 20 percent and save an annual 74 percent on energy costs.
The estimated completion date is 2017, when new lights will be installed in the 100 or so rooms that make up Madrid’s premier museum.