Museum musings

Minneapolis Art Institute has a nice variety of work on exhibit.

Some of it is pretty life-like. Unfortunately, the excellence of the artwork is not supported by competency in lighting of the exhibit. All lights are very directional cans set up high, with the result being lots of specular highlights without either form or texture modeled well.

It’s especially obvious with this eye sculpture: lots of bright highlights, multiple hard shadows but minimal 3D form modeling that would have happened had the museum put a diffuser above this specific item or simply under the entire battery of can lights.

Typically, hard light can emphasize texture and soft light, volume. Multiple hard lights from mostly the same direction emphasize neither and generally make for a confused perception of the object.

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2 Responses to Museum musings

  1. Jay Travis says:

    Probably because most electrical contractors at firms big enough to get the job have projects like this being estimated and bid by engineers first and don’t approach it from the eye of an artist or photographer? Plus, in all fairness, IF the displays are changed around over time then they may have looked at the lighting set-up as being a compromise that would hopefully work across a wide variety of pieces, even if they aren’t optimal for any of them. The Loose Shoe fits more feet, so to speak?

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