This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Mona Lisa Lit by Toshiba LEDs

Toshiba Corp. is making a splash over its partnership with the Louvre as it takes over lighting the iconic Mona Lisa, which was first LED illuminated in 2012.

It's not news that LEDs can be produced with the exact characteristics desired to light and display some of the most valuable objects in the world. We've already discussed what LEDs are doing for Vermeer and Rembrandt paintings. But the Mona Lisa is in a class of its own.

When Toshiba and the Louvre announced that their partnership, established in 2010, had extended from exterior illumination to take over lighting the world's most famous painting, everybody from the LA Times to Business Week picked up the story.

The Louvre has been working with Toshiba to move its lighting to LEDs. The partnership is set to run through 2023. The Japanese electronics company started on exterior lighting in 2011. That phase of the project was completed by February 2012.

An upstart
Apparently, independent of this partnership, other parts of the Louvre were working on LED projects of their own. In May 2012, the museum unveiled a single purpose-built LED luminaire spotlighting the Mona Lisa. That work was done by Fraen Corp. of Reading, Mass., through its research subsidiary Fraen Srl of Milan, Italy. The fixture consisted of "7 LEDs, a mix of Luxeon I and Luxeon III lambertian emitters from Lumileds," according to LEDs Magazine. Fraen did not reveal the color mix, but the end result was daylight-like illumination exactly matching the rectangle of the painting. The Mona Lisa technical team included "other engineering leaders in Europe, coordinated by the project's lead company, Sklaer of Germany," which handled the design of the light projection system.

Toshiba was not about to have its partnership with the Louvre upstaged by some Massachusetts lighting outfit. Two weeks after the luminaire was unveiled, the company issued a press release announcing that its partnership had been extended to include lighting the Mona Lisa. (Some ambitious midlevel functionary at the Louvre probably became unemployed, but if any such year-old news story exists, I didn't come across it.) In the past year, Toshiba and the Louvre redid all of the work that Fraen, Sklaer, et al. had put into determining and realizing the ideal lighting for Leonardo's La Gioconda.

Market presence
Lighting fine art is not the only area where Toshiba has been moving aggressively in LED lighting. Last fall, it announced it had won a competition to replace 20,000 street lights in San Antonio. And we have written here about Toshiba's joint development work with Bridgelux in GaN-on-Si technology for LED engines, culminating in a deal this spring to transfer to Toshiba Bridgelux's IP and the employees working on this technology.

I wasn't able to locate figures on the Toshiba's marketshare in the various LED lighting segments. If you have information on the company's footprint, please share what you know in the comments.

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