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Sustainability goals achieved with new LED lighting technology at UMMA

This spring and summer, UMMA is replacing much of the building’s interior lighting with LED lamps, a move that lowers greenhouse emissions, cuts energy costs, and improves the overall visitor experience. ​

The new Soraa LED lampsThe LED lamps are created by Soraa, a company co-founded by Dr. Shuji Nakamura, a 2014 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics. His innovations make true LED white light possible for the first time. Now, all colors on the visible spectrum can be beautifully showcased. Because Soraa is the only company currently offering full-spectrum LED lamps, UMMA is at the forefront in museum lighting technology.

According to Kevin Morgan, with the Office of Campus Sustainability, the new LED lamps will be included in projects totaling $180,000. By using existing light fixtures, a complete conversion to LEDs is possible at no cost to UMMA.The project estimates that the electrical expenses for UMMA will be reduced by 8%, producing substantial savings. Additionally, the lamps will use 67% less energy, and on average, will last more than twelve times as long as the existing halogen lamps. 

Beyond helping UMMA meet the University of Michigan’s sustainability goals, lighting plays a significant role in understanding art, impacting visitor experience, and shaping the overall impression of an exhibition.

“Incandescent bulbs cast a warmer, yellow light that alters colors and makes them untrue to the artists’ intentions,” says Kate Holoka, the Collections and Exhibitions Technician spearheading the project and its installation. 

Kate Holoka installing the new Soraa lamps in the UMMA galleries

“Along with improved color accuracy,” Holoka continues, “the new lights will enhance formerly obscured elements of composition and texture. At the same time, they meet our objects’ conservation requirements by reducing their exposure to damaging ultraviolet and infrared radiation.”

Holoka began installation earlier this winter and continues to do so incrementally so as not to disturb Museum patrons. Currently, half of UMMA’s galleries have been converted to the new LED lighting, and the project is expected to be completed by summer 2018. 

By Matisen Douglas