Conversion at Saint Peter's

Conversion at Saint Peter’s

Saint Peter’s Basilica has been converted to LED.  It took 780 luminaires to produce the 11 million lumens that now light up the interior of the Catholic Church’s most famous building. The Sistine Chapel has been lit by LEDs since 2014.  Like the chapel, the conversion of the basilica was driven less by the striking energy efficiencies on offer, but more by the way LED helps conserve and illuminate the priceless artworks.

Crucial advantage

The energy efficiencies are not trivial – they are said to be an incredible 90 percent cut to operational energy in the latest fit out of the historic building. But in an environment where temperature control is so critical to the preservation of the paintings, the relative coolness of LEDs is the crucial advantage. And now that the colour rendering of LED is so vastly improved, Michelangelo’s exquisite palette is fully revealed.

Levels of illumination much higher

It certainly helps that the levels of illumination are now much higher, revealing details “unseen by art experts”. Most of the interior is lit at a warm 3000K colour temperature, with the exception being the cupula, where the gold details are accentuated by a slightly warmer 2700K.

Great cultural treasure

The cupula was difficult to maintain with traditional lighting owing to the difficulty of accessing luminaires to change bulbs and it had become quite gloomy over the years. But in the same way that candles have given way to incandescents, it is now the turn of LED to shine a light on one of humanity’s great cultural treasures.

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