‘Mona Lisa’ gets new lighting at Louvre Museum

Visitors take photos of the "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The lighting will soon be enhanced.
(Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press)

Even the “Mona Lisa” needs a little help to look so young after nearly five centuries.

Officials at the Musée du Louvre in Paris this week unveiled a new lighting system for the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that remains the museum’s top visitor draw. The new lighting features LED bulbs in a new system created by Toshiba, which has a multi-year agreement with the Louvre to upgrade its lighting.

“Mona Lisa” now is illuminated by a system of 34 LED bulbs that can be adjusted to highlight the painting’s natural colors. A news conference held at the Louvre on Tuesday used a copy of the “Mona Lisa” to demonstrate the system, according to a report from Japan’s NHK World News.

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The new lighting is intended to minimize ultraviolet and infrared rays and to bring out what are believed to be the original hues in the painting that have faded over time. Curators at the Louvre worked with Toshiba to find the optimal lighting.

Toshiba has already upgraded the lighting in the Louvre’s outdoor pyramid structure, designed by architect I.M. Pei, as well as the ceiling lighting in the museum’s so-called Red Rooms. The Japanese company said it is working on lighting for the museum’s Napolean Hall.

Last year, officials at the Louvre told the Art Newspaper that Leonardo completed the “Mona Lisa” later than previously thought. The portrait was finished more than a decade later, possibly as late as 1519. The painting was previously thought to have been finished as late as 1506.


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