Florence, for Michelangelo's David, new lighting system to enhance the work and save money

Michelangelo's David gets a new lighting system, created by Enel with the aim of enhancing the work and its details in particular, and focusing on energy savings and efficiency.

New lights for Michelangelo ’s David at the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Michelangelo Buonarroti ’s masterpiece has been equipped with modern lighting aimed at energy saving and efficiency through the use of the latest LED technology, according to a project promoted by Enel and built from scratch by Enel X. The inauguration of the new installation will be held on Monday, September 12, 2022, with the Luci sul David event to be held in the presence of Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, Massimo Osanna, general director of Museums, Nicola Lanzetta, director of Enel Italia, and city authorities. An invitation-only event celebrating two anniversaries that curiously fall in 2022: 140 years since the opening of the David Tribune and 60 years since the founding of Enel.

The lighting project aims to bring the dynamism of sunlight back to the David’s Tribune. A series of floodlights placed ideally in a radial pattern were installed in the area of the large skylight in the existing holes, readjusting their fixing without making any changes to the view. The new-generation light fixtures with LED source are equipped with a beam aperture such that it totally envelops the David and leaves in the background the rest of the space that houses it, which will be equipped instead with an artificial and separately controlled lighting system. During daylight hours, the artificial lighting will be in addition to the natural lighting from the skylight designed to allow a completely new and close-to-the-original reading of the details of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. The artificial system adjusts the color variation during the hours of the day: the projectors have different color temperatures so that the David can be seen not only illuminated from various perspectives, but also with a variable chromatic appearance.

To illuminate the Prison Gallery, on the other hand, they opted for projection lighting from the frame present on both sides of the Gallery. The optics are high-precision, narrow-beam spot and medium-beam flood; the light is directed by concentrating several projectors on the single sculptural work, with the intention of harmonizing the illumination of the Prisons and the Pieta with that of the David as best as possible, both from the point of view of color rendering and visual perception and from the restitution of color, keeping the different material emergencies of Michelangelo’s works of art unaltered. The installation also includes lighting for the works in the Prison Gallery, the Transept, the Halls of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, ambient lighting and emergency lighting. The aim of the project is to give back to the works in the Accademia Gallery of Florence the right ratio of light and dark and color through the implementation of a system aimed at energy saving and efficiency. This is complemented by the use of a CASAMBI home automation system with Bluetooth low energy to modulate the amount of illuminance, light intensity and lighting scenes.

From a design and management point of view, the project was handled by Enel X, the Enel Group’s global energy supply and efficiency branch and a world leader in the development of innovative solutions to support the energy transition. Enel X promotes, in Italy and abroad, the “lighting culture” in its highest expression. Designing light means conceiving a context to be illuminated and identifying the type, characteristics, quantity and location of all the equipment that will have to contribute to defining it. The construction sites that have affected the Accademia Gallery over the past two years testify to the commitment made to the MIC - Ministry of Culture, in fostering the best possible enjoyment of it not only in the immediate but also to future generations.

“There is no better way to celebrate 140 years,” comments Cecilie Hollberg, “since the Tribune opened to the public on July 22, 1882. A new light source invests the heart of the museum, enhancing the surfaces of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. With The Tribune’s new lighting system we close an important chapter for our museum. One that, with Enel X, has changed the visual perception of the works in the Galleria dei Prigioni, the Transetto, and the rooms of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, making the Accademia Gallery of Florence even more avant-garde.”

"The Luci sul David project,“ says Massimo Osanna, ”represents an innovative and forward-looking model of renovation of museum spaces, which was able to converge the needs of sustainability and energy efficiency, with those of study, correct reading and better enjoyment of the works. The lighting solutions identified for the different environments are the result of a synergistic collaboration between many professionals, for which I congratulate the director Cecilie Hollberg and all the staff of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze."

“We are particularly proud of this project,” comments Nicola Lanzetta, “which enhances, through light, the artistic heritage of our country, and does so with attention to sustainability and energy saving, thanks to the use of the latest technologies. With the solutions used to give new light to the Accademia Gallery in Florence, innovation is at the service of history, art, culture and, at the same time, the environment.”

Pictured is the installation work of the system.

Florence, for Michelangelo's David, new lighting system to enhance the work and save money
Florence, for Michelangelo's David, new lighting system to enhance the work and save money

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