ERCO transforms the lighting of Palazzo Grassi in Venice
Palazzo Grassi became an art exhibition venue when it was owned by the Fiat Group. But the story changed dramatically in 2005 at the hands of French billionaire François Pinault, owner of a contemporary art collection of more than 5,000 works by artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Ando’s subsequent major renovation preserved the grandeur of the original 1772 palace, while providing the building with modern facilities for displaying works of art in an exhibition space totaling 40 rooms over 5,000 square metres.2. As part of the François Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi displays rotating exhibitions from Pinault’s extensive art collection as well as site-specific installations commissioned by contemporary artists.
A radical lighting upgrade
However, nearly 20 years after the restoration, it was determined that the lighting system needed an extensive upgrade. The main challenge was to come up with a flexible and high-quality solution, while maintaining the integrity of the historic building. The luminaires chosen were Parscan 48V LED spotlights from ERCO, which feature the latest lighting technology to complement simple pendant box systems, designed by Ando to maintain the integrity of the beautiful decorative ceiling.
Thanks to its excellent light production and energy-efficient use, the Parscan 48V series is also sustainably produced and manufactured according to ERCO Greenology. A compact and highly flexible spotlight system, designed specifically for use in museums and galleries, offering precise light distributions and switchable dimming options. This allows for optimal control and adaptability, which is crucial for artistic lighting works that may have a range of different lighting requirements.
The Parscan’s concise design also reflects Ando’s minimalist aesthetic. Thanks to the small profile, the focus is on the artwork and not on the installations. Moreover, it maintains the architectural integrity of the palace, which seamlessly integrates with the boxes in the exhibition areas. Selected luminaires have wall wash distribution. This produces uniform lighting over a large area and avoids strong contrasts and shadows. Instead, the fixtures subtly rejuvenate art by providing soft, even lighting, faithfully displaying the color and detail of the artwork. Wall washing also contributes to the perception of brightness and thus increases visual comfort. Color accuracy in artwork is enhanced by neutral white LED sources (3500K) with a high color rendition (CRI 92) that ensures colors are as vibrant as possible.
The deciding factor in upgrading the lighting system was state-of-the-art controls. Lighting throughout Palazzo Grassi is coordinated by the energy-efficient Casambi wireless control solution via Bluetooth technology. Casambi system integration provides an intuitive user interface and allows adjustments to be made in real time, thus ensuring optimal lighting conditions at all times. Its flexibility makes it an invaluable tool for this dynamic environment, where different areas of the exhibition may have different lighting requirements.
One of the key features of the BarScan system is its tool-free interchangeable optical systems, providing flexibility for both current and future exhibitions. If artworks change or there are new exhibitions, the optical systems can easily be replaced with new ones without having to overhaul the entire lighting system.
Barscan areas are not limited to exhibition spaces only. Thanks to their flexible nature, they are also used to illuminate the beautiful marble staircase. Through precise light distribution and dimming options, they not only provide safe navigation, ensuring clear visibility and no potentially disconcerting shadows, but they create a visually cohesive and aesthetically pleasing luminous environment throughout.
Light is a crucial element
“Light is not only a functional aspect, it is a crucial element of design to present works of art and illuminate historic architecture,” says Michele Cassio of ERCO Italy. “It helps shape the visitor experience, unleashes emotion, and facilitates understanding and appreciation of art and architecture.”
Along with Punta della Dogana, another site of the Pinault Collection in Venice and also illuminated by ERCO, Palazzo Grassi is an important landmark of contemporary art in the city. “It is an example of how advanced technology can be used to respect and emphasize historic architecture, while meeting the changing demands of displaying contemporary art,” says Mauro Baroncelli, Executive Director of the Palazzo Grassi on Punta della Dogana.
“The quality of lighting inside the spaces has been improved. The system can be controlled remotely in a very simple way and the intervention is very discreet, respecting the architectural signature of Tadao Ando who designed the spaces in 2006. In my opinion, the result achieved matched all our expectations.”