Gruuthuse Museum

At the Gruuthuse Museum, tapestries, stained glass windows, portraits, and artistic porcelain, tell the story of three periods in the city of Bruges, Belgium’s history.

CHALLENGE: The collection is exhibited in a setting that radiates serenity and warmth. “Adapted lighting plays a leading role in this,” says museum coordinator Aleid Hemeryck. “The lighting brings the art objects and the building to life. In almost every museum, it makes or breaks the experience.”

INFLUENCE: After a five-year renovation, this former city palace would become a contemporary museum requiring a well-thought-out lighting concept that also maximized preservation of the collection. Old works of art are particularly sensitive to light, notes Hemeryck, which means there is a real risk of damage if they are exposed too intensely for too long. The control system also had to be combine durability and user-friendliness.

SOLUTION: Fixtures from Scottish Stoane Lighting, which incorporate Xicato LED components, were selected. According to Patrick van der Meulen, business development manager at Xicato, the modules have unique properties relating to luminous flux and color consistency are better maintained over the entire lifespan. In addition, sensors are built in that provide temperature monitoring, and create additional functionality for lighting and other applications. “For example, built-in beacons allow location-driven services, so an application that provides information on a smartphone or tablet of visitors can tell them more about the art object they represent.”

For object lighting, Bluetooth Low Energy is used for control, while general building lighting is via DALI.  The fact that the LED modules for object lighting work with Bluetooth is an asset in that it allows the LED to be adjusted via tablets and smartphones. Another benefit of Bluetooth is that it allows a mesh structure as a network topology. Each module in the network has its own intelligence, making central control a thing of the past. “An important advantage of this is that the proper functioning of the lighting installation does not depend on one central component,” says van der Meulen. “As a result, the majority of the installation will continue to do its work pending the replacement of a broken component.”

According to Hemeryck, it is up the museum to exploit the “smartness” of the system. For example, it is perfectly possible to calculate, based on the burning hours, when a work of art should be moved back to the archive for a short while in order to prevent excessive aging. “We also think it would be interesting to take advantage of the beacons’ ability to develop location-based services. We could even respond creatively to Covid-19, for example with a warning signal when there are too many visitors in the same room. Another option is that technical services automatically receive an SMS if something goes wrong with a module.”

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