Osram Gives the Vatican New Life with LED Lighting Overhaul

Osram Gives the Vatican New Life with LED Lighting Overhaul

Source: Architectural Digest      By Laura Itzkowitz  2.5.18

Article adapted from the original post in Architectural Digest..See below for full article link.  Energy consumption has been reduced by 90 percent and the before and after pictures are amazing…..

The project to relight the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sala Regia has taken eight years to complete.

On the evening of January 25, St. Peter’s Basilica officially inaugurated the LED lights that have brought new life to one of the world’s largest and most important Catholic churches. It was the culmination of a nearly eight-year project by German lighting firm Osram, which installed LEDs in the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms, and the Sala Regia in the Vatican Museums, before relighting St. Peter’s Square and the basilica.

“We uncovered artwork that has hardly been seen before,” Dr. Thorsten Müller, Osram’s group senior vice president of innovation, tells AD PRO. Formerly, the cost of illuminating the massive basilica, which contains the world’s largest mosaic, was so high that Vatican officials couldn’t turn on all the lights at the same time. “If you were in one of the smaller cupolas, you could hardly imagine what’s up there,” Müller says. “You could just see there’s some artwork, but you had no chance to see what kind of artwork.”

Planning for the project began in 2011 with talks between Osram and EU officials, who wanted to find a project that would make good use of LEDs and show how they can provide high-quality, sustainable illumination for monuments, museums, and public spaces in Europe and beyond. That led to discussions with Vatican officials, who were eager to find a solution to the many problems associated with incandescent lighting. Besides being very expensive, the incandescent bulbs were creating a lot of heat, especially in the summer, when tourists visiting the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica would contribute to the humidity, causing mold that was damaging the Sistine Chapel.

Osram—whose Munich-based parent company Osram Licht has more than 15,000 patents in energy, lighting, and control technology—was eager to tackle the project, but first they had to prove that LEDs wouldn’t harm the Vatican’s priceless art. Though the company has also lit up 12 miles of skyscrapers in the Chinese city of Wuhan and installed LEDs in Paris’s Galeries Lafayette, working with the Vatican was an entirely different challenge.

“There were over 280 pigments that were tested for more than a year at more than 1,000 times the illumination level that we expected here—and nothing happened except to one made with egg whites,” Osram senior project manager Martin Reuter explains. On that sample, the heat of the LEDs caused the pigment to cook like fried eggs.  See the full article and more pictures at:  https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/the-vatican-led-lights?fbclid=IwAR3VYio.