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Deities, dolls, dignitaries

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POLINA POTOCHEVSKA [email protected]

Whether for sentiment, wonder, or weirdness, humans seem inexplicably interested in creating and displaying wax figures. Some ancient civilizations made likenesses of deities, others made children’s dolls. The infamous Madame Tussauds of London once forged wax figures of criminals, and Westminster Abbey still displays life-size, wax-and-wood memorials of medieval royalty.
Earlier this year, the Musée Grévin, one of Paris’ top tourist attractions, updated its lighting systems to innovative LED light sources, giving their wax figures an even more natural and lifelike appearance.

A wax figure depicting Albert Einstein. Courtesy of Pixabay/Meromex.

A wax figure depicting Albert Einstein. Courtesy of Pixabay/Meromex.

Wax figures, which can take over 300 hours to create, require specific lighting solutions to ensure the figure looks its best, is not exposed to unnecessary heat, and is beautifully illuminated so visitors can snap the perfect photo.

The museum’s downlight fixtures — the result of a collaboration between Seoul Semiconductor Co. Ltd., a developer and manufacturer of LED products and technology, and RAMO, an LED lighting manufacturer from France — are used to illuminate the more than 200 figures currently on display. The figures include famous athletes, celebrities, and historic figures such as Kylian Mbappé, Michael Jackson, and Albert Einstein.

The light spectra and color rendering index (CRI) of the LEDs used at the museum is CRI-97, nearly the same as the CRI-100 of sunlight. This is optimized with fixtures that achieve color temperatures of neutral white (3000 K) and warm white (4000 K). The wax exhibits and figures will thus appear more lifelike, vivid, and detailed to visitors, according to Jeonghee Kim, a manager at Seoul Semiconductor who recently spoke with Photonics Media.

For many reasons, LED lighting is a top choice for museums. According to lighting solutions manufacturer STANDARD Products Inc., LED lighting produces less UV radiation than other light sources, making it safer for delicate artwork. It also has a lifetime of approximately 25,000 hours and is energy efficient. And according to lighting company LIFX, LED light bulbs are often half the temperature of an incandescent or halogen bulb of equal brightness.

As light sources continue to improve and develop, along with growth in the artistry and popularity of wax figures, it may soon be hard to tell an exhibit from its original muse.

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2019
Lighter Side

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