How to light Statues and Monuments

How to light Statues and Monuments

Many monuments are listed, and as such lighting will require planning approval from the local Conservation Officer, Historic England, Historic Scotland or Cadw.

With small statues, it is possible to achieve an effective result with a single fitting, but this should have a narrow-beam and preferably be located above and to one side of the object. This will help to create strong, dramatic shadowing and avoid glare to passers-by.

Larger statues or monuments will invariably require more than one luminaire – these should be used to reveal different parts of the object, but be careful not to cancel out the shadows from one fitting by another. The impact of a carefully illuminated statue is often defined by the creative use of shadows.

Brightness is a key issue – floods or spots that are too powerful will bleach out the statue’s details. In most cases, it is useful to do a trial or mock-up, using different wattages, beam angles and positions.
Think about the main viewing positions and concentrate on lighting to enhance that view.

Consider spill light around and behind the object being lit – the use of narrow-beam equipment, shields, baffles and lighting from high positions will help to reduce this.

With monuments on plinths, don’t only light the statue itself – try to put a gentle wash of light onto the plinth as well.

Consider the daytime appearance of the lighting equipment – ground lights are a good solution for minimising the daytime visual impact.

Computer generated renderings are an ideal first step, provided that appropriate software such as 3D Studio Max is used to generate sufficiently realistic and photometrically accurate images.

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