03/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/19/2021 03:55
"Light is the medium used to display art in every museum and architecture is the language that sets this medium free. Light also reflects an 'attitude' - that of the museum to its purpose. Many museums are self-indulgent and see their own existence as their purpose. For the Fondation Beyeler, this is not the case, the opposite in fact," says director Wim Wenders, who made the 3D short video installation "Two or Three Things I Know about Edward Hopper" specially for the major Edward Hopper exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler. For the famous museum in Riehen/Basel, Switzerland, Zumtobel has created a new, sophisticated lighting solution that uses innovative zoom lenses to showcase the spectacular art and creates an impression of daylight in the atmospheric rooms, even in the evening.
Simply dive in and see where the experience takes you: visitors to the Fondation Beyeler's museum don't have to stick to a specific route. They can stroll through the exhibition areas and allow themselves to be guided by their intuition. Not many museums have the luxury of granting their visitors this freedom, thanks to 22 large exhibition rooms. It's also why the art galleries are one of the most visited in Switzerland. Another attraction is of course the fascinating architecture. Clear lines draw the visitor's gaze instinctively to the artworks. And rightly so, because at the heart of the museum is the outstanding art collection of gallery owners Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, complemented by temporary exhibitions by top international artists.
Accentuating a unique spatial experience with light
It's certainly true that the open architecture and the influence of daylight create a unique spatial experience, but it also represents a huge challenge for the lighting design. In addition, the existing lighting concept by Renzo Piano had to be integrated, as the architect had already designed an additional glazed level with the help of a suspended ceiling, which can be heated and houses technical installations as well as the lighting equipment and sensor-controlled, movable slats for the automatic regulation of the daylight. A special construction on the roof also shields the building interior from direct sunlight but allows the light to diffuse. And what is the ultimate effect of this elaborate construction? The way in which the ceiling is built means that it appears to the observer merely as a uniform, faintly bright area but both visitors and artists appreciate this unique, diffuse lighting.
Focus on the art with tunableWhite
Zumtobel has developed a customised LED lighting solution that meets all the requirements of a thoroughly modern art museum. The indirect general lighting system now includes around 600 wall washers, installed in the suspended ceiling and invisible to visitors, and supplements the natural daylight wherever needed throughout the day. The luminaires offer pleasant basic lighting with excellent colour rendering (CRI > 90), while thanks to tunableWhite technology, the colour temperature can be adjusted to suit each individual exhibit. This ensures optimal reproduction of colours and materials. The ambience of a room can be re-adjusted whenever required. With the help of the wall washers, the maximum possible illuminances were increased by almost 50 per cent, while power consumption was drastically reduced.
Innovative zoom lenses for perfectly presented art
Zumtobel has designed a spotlight with a special zoom lens with angles of 14 to 30 degrees, for particularly flexible exhibit lighting. For the first time, the accented lighting can thus be precisely directed at both large and small objects - in a similar way to a camera lens. The result is a clean, uniform image, beautiful centre weighting and smooth edges without discolouration or multiple shadows. The dimmable luminaire also offers various reflectors, an adjustable colour temperature and high colour rendering (CRI > 90) and can be controlled via Bluetooth. A true all-rounder. This extremely flexible special luminaire allows curators to create perfect lighting for works from different eras for the first time. Because Impressionist and Expressionist paintings are two very different things. The perception of the objects is thus improved and becomes a visual experience for the viewer.
Role model for other art houses
The result of the collaboration: the exhibit lighting was so well received that Zumtobel added the special zoom lens system to its standard portfolio.
The unique lighting concept in Riehen is expected to serve as a model for other newly planned art galleries in Switzerland.
A building as a facilitator of art
Let's go back to the museum's architecture: the building was opened in 1997 and is surrounded by an idyllic park that also serves as an exhibition space. The museum building is the work of famous architect Renzo Piano and is characterised by its monumental longitudinal walls, glazed front and a winter garden. The building and its immediate surroundings form an inseparable ensemble. The entire building was sunk into the ground so that the whole collection could be experienced on one level and to be able to create a pond on its south side. The low-rise, natural stone building appears to have emerged from the ground, nestling in a landscape of orchards and a river valley. The surface of the water reflects the works in the museum, creating a harmonious transition from the outside to the inside. And what awaits us there?
The museum houses the Beyeler Collection, which consists of over 400 masterpieces of classic modern and contemporary art and represents married couple Hildy and Ernst Beyeler's personal perspective on the art of the 20th century. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Degas, Kandinsky, Matisse, Klee and Picasso, as well as Giacometti, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko and Bacon. It also holds around 25 works of ethnographic art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska. Since its inception, the collection has doubled in size and has been carefully expanded with valuable donations and permanent loans from private art collections and famous artists, including works by Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Holzer, Roni Horn, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra and Wolfgang Tillmans. Temporary exhibitions by top artists round off the visitor experience in this uniquely atmospheric museum.
And the Fondation Beyeler wants to build on its past success - the foundation recently acquired the neighbouring park and is planning an extension there with Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.
Facts and further information
Main contractor: Beyeler-Stiftung, Riehen (CH)
Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Lighting design: matí AG