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The Sansevero Chapel Museum

The Sansevero Chapel Museum is a mysterious and fascinating location. Much of its atmosphere is owed to its founder, Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero (1710-1771), who commissioned the masterpieces that are collected here. The most famous of these is Giuseppe Sanmartino's Cristo Velato (Veiled Christ). Sculpted in 1753, the work is famous the world over and its solid marble veil is so inexplicably light and airy it has given rise to numerous legends regarding Raimondo di Sangro's notoriety as an alchemist. The effect is, of course, due solely to the brilliance of Sanmartino, who was paid the notable sum of five hundred ducats for his work. In addition to the Veiled Christ located in the centre of the chapel, there are over 20 other sculptures here that represent the quintessence of Neapolitan Baroque and are by major artists, such as Francesco Queirolo, Antonio Corradini and Francesco Celebrano. In the basement there are also the bizarre figures of a man and a woman, known as the Anatomical Machines.

In 2016 the museum decided to completely replace its obsolete and energy-intensive lighting with a new LED system. The old system consisted of 32 profilers and spotlights fitted with 150 and 70 W metal halide lamps, and the aim of the new project was to reduce energy consumption, improve museum organisation (by avoiding frequent maintenance operations to change light bulbs) and protect the artworks from the kind of damage that light radiation can have on sensitive materials. The museum, in fact, made extremely specific requests and insisted on compact devices that would be more efficient in terms of energy with higher levels of performance (high colour rendering, visual comfort and long lamp life), low heat dissipation and the option of a single control system for all the luminaires in order to create different lighting configurations for the chapel's splendid collection of marbles.

To create a spectacular and dynamic lighting scenario, iGuzzini worked closely together with the museum's staff of experts. The result is a series of light "frames" created by a Master Pro Evo control system that can operate with a range of different luminaires. Palco spotlights were mainly used with elliptical refractors for lighting the frescoed ceiling and profilers to accent light the Veiled Christ and the other marbles. iPro spotlights were also inserted in the original oil-fired lanterns to accent light the plaster decorations. Once the new luminaires were installed a considerable drop in the average temperature inside the chapel was registered (about 3°C), as well as a drastic reduction in electricity consumption. First and foremost, though, the new lighting system has succeeded in enhancing the mysterious atmosphere of this magical and fascinating place.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Museo Cappella Sansevero Srl
  • Photographer
    Luca Petrucci