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Louvre looks to LEDs to light the way

More energy-efficient lighting from Toshiba is planned for I.M. Pei pyramid and other key museum areas to be refitted by 2012.

Louvre Pyramid
Louvre Pyramid with its original low-voltage 100W halogen lamps that were installed when it was constructed in the 1980s. Erco

The Louvre Museum is planning an overhaul to replace its current lighting with more energy-efficient and cost-effective LED lighting.

To that end, the Louvre Pyramid, designed by architect I.M. Pei, will be refitted.

Toshiba has signed a partnership agreement to provide the lighting, which in the first phase will encompass the glass pyramids and outdoor lighting for Napoleon Court as well as the Cour Carree, the Louvre's underground, sky-lighted entrance, square, and visitors' center, Toshiba announced Wednesday.

The Napoleon Court lighting is expected to be completed in 2011, with the remaining entrance and underground lobby lighting for the Parisian landmark to be finished in 2012.

Louvre Pyramid
Louvre Pyramid in 2005 after metal halide lamps were installed. Erco

One can't help wonder if this means the Louvre's nighttime glow might change. Los Angeles, for example, in switching from high-pressure sodium street lights to LED street lights has actually changed the color of its nighttime glow from orange to white.

The glow of the Louvre Pyramid has already changed color once. The original 100W halogen lamps designed by Claude Engle and light engineering company Erco gave off an orange glow. That was changed to white in 2005 after the museum, in conjunction with Erco, switched to metal halide lamps.

The importance of lighting for ambience as well as function does not seem to be lost on Toshiba, which manufactured its last major run of household incandescent bulbs in March 2010. The company says the environment that lighting creates is an issue it takes just as seriously as its work toward energy efficiency.

"Light has an emotional power that creates atmosphere and enriches life. Toshiba celebrates this quality as akari, a Japanese concept that conveys the ability of lighting to appeal deeply to our senses and emotions. It will seek to convey this understanding at the Louvre," Toshiba said in a statement.