Guildhall Art Gallery, established in 1886 as ‘collection treasures worthy of the capital city’, is home to the art collection of the City of London Corporation. It includes works dating from 1670 to the present, including 17th Century portraits Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and a fascinating range of paintings documenting London's dramatic history,
Now visitors will be able to see those treasures in even clearer detail from September 12 following the installation of bright LED lighting in a renovation programme that also featured the introduction of a new Heritage Gallery.
Crown Fine Art’s part in the project was to help move, protect and conserve art and artefacts in the Gallery space while renovations were made.
It was a complicated and sensitive job, not least because of one very large painting by John Singleton Copley – one of the largest easel paintings in Britain at almost 8m x 7m – that was simply too big to move out of the room. Instead we had to protect it in situ. This was done by wrapping it in a dust-proof breathable membrane so there was no chance of mould or of pockets of moisture creeping in. Then we built a specially-designed crate around it. This was important because workmen would be working directly above the painting on the lighting rig.
Another problem was that it was not possible to fix the crate to the wall or floor of the building, meaning we had to use the fittings behind the painting that were already in place; and all of this had to be done, of course, with real precision and care.
Other artefacts, including some vulnerable sculptures, were also left crated in the room during renovation while others were carefully moved out to be stored elsewhere on site, ready to be put back on display in time for the gallery’s re-opening on September 12.
The good news is that the installation of LED lighting should have significant benefits for the gallery, for visitors and also for the environment.
We have noticed a real trend towards museums and galleries taking an interest in LED lighting. Recent advances in technology have made it a much more attractive prospect – and it has already been installed at the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, where visitors have given a positive reaction.
The benefits, in fact, are multiple. Conservators are happy because LED lights, which don’t emit damaging UV rays, are far kinder than traditional lighting which can cause art and artefacts to fade. There will no longer be a need to install filters or UV glass to protect paintings, for instance.
On top of that the bulbs last significantly longer, which brings cost benefits, and use less energy, which is good for the environment. They also emit a clear and bright light which many people say provides a better experience for those viewing the collection.
For new lighting to be installed it is usually necessary to close the museum or gallery space for a period; so choosing the right art logistics company to move, store and look after art and artefacts during the process is important.
Museums and galleries do, fact, use that time to their benefit. It can be a useful time to review collections, to refresh galleries and for conservators to assess museum pieces. Items can either be stored safely off site or, as in the case of the Guildhall Art Gallery, protected in situ while renovation takes place.
Over the next year we would expect a lot of interest in LED lighting from museums and galleries. Conservators have already started to take notice – in fact they have been watching the situation closely for the last couple of years. Although the capital outlay is obviously significant, the cost savings mean the renovation can pay for itself in the long term.Back to top